WOONSOCKET – A veteran Woonsocket police captain is one of four finalists for the police chief job in Uxbridge.
Detective Cpt. Edward J. Lee Jr., a longtime city cop who currently oversees the detective division in Woonsocket, is vying for the Uxbridge position along with three other candidates, including Smithfield Police Cpt. Robert Eaton, Auburn, Mass., Det. Lt. Jeffrey Lourie; and interim Uxbridge Police Chief Lt. Peter B. Emerick.
The town has been without a permanent police chief since the retirement of former Police Chief Scott Freitas in August. Emerick has been serving as interim chief.
Uxbridge residents will get a chance to meet the four candidates at a social to be held Tuesday, Sept. 17 from 6:45 to 8 p.m. in the lower Town Hall meeting room.
Hosted by Town Manager Sean Hendricks, the social is an opportunity for town residents to meet and ask the finalists questions before Hendricks appoints one of them as the town’s new chief.
Refreshments and hors d’oeuvres will be served.
The town’s search for a new police chief began in June when a panel that included Hendricks, a police chief from the Blackstone Valley area, a member of the patrolmen’s union and a selectman interviewed candidates and narrowed the field to four finalists.
In Uxbridge, the town manager appoints the police chief. After the Sept. 17 social, Hendricks will wait a week for any public comment before he makes an offer and announces the selected applicant.
Hendricks says he hopes to make that announcement by Friday, Sept. 27, or by Sept. 30 at the latest.
Lee was one of four finalists for the Wilbraham, Mass., police chief job in 2011, and last year, he was a finalist for the chief’s job in Maynard, Mass.
Lee, 45, a 25-year veteran of the Woonsocket Police Department, is currently responsible for and oversees Woonsocket’s detective division, juvenile detective division, Bureau of Criminal Identification, vice investigations and prosecution division.
In 2011, he attended the 247th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. He was the third Woonsocket police veteran to be chosen for a spot at the academy in recent years. Previously, former Capt. Gary Chamberland and former Detective Commander William Mack were academy alumni.
Both went on to become police chiefs in other communities – Chamberland in Sterling, Mass., and Mack in Scituate.
Lee was one of two police officers who interrogated serial killer Jeff Mailhot in 2004 following the disappearance of three prostitutes in the city. The police didn’t have much on Mailhot at the time except a fourth woman who told police she escaped from Mailhot while he was trying to strangle her in his Cato Hill apartment.
Under questioning by Lee and now-retired Detective Lt. Steve Nowak, Mailhot refused to budge, insisting he had nothing to do with missing prostitutes. It went on like that for hours as the detectives continued to coax, prod and cajole, sensing Mailhot was about to break.
Finally, the mild-mannered factory worker with a spotless record of past run-ins with the law confessed to murdering and dismembering all of the missing women – the most gruesome crime spree in the city’s history.
Mailhot later pled guilty and is serving a double life sentence at the ACI.
Thirty-five years old when he was captured, he’ll be eligible for parole when he’s about 73.
Lee co-authored a true-crime book for general publication about Mailhot after the killer went to jail. It was called “Ripper” – as in Jack the Ripper.
Lee also worked on the case of David Main, who was shot to death at close range and robbed as he approached the doorstep of the Citizens Bank in Woonsocket on Sept. 20, 2010.
Three suspects in the case have since pled guilty to the crime. Lee worked closely with federal agents during that investigation.
Lee lives in Bellingham with his two boys, Wyatt and Tatum, and his wife, Cheri. Law enforcement is a tradition in his family – his father, Edward Lee Sr., is a former police chief of Blackstone, the youngest person ever to attain that position.