Last Friday, the York Police Department responded to multiple 911 calls of a man assaulting a woman at Short Sands Beach. When officers arrived, they located the deceased woman and took Jeffrey Buchannan, 33, into custody.
He was later charged in the murder of Rhonda Pattelena, 35, Maine state police said. An autopsy revealed that she died from blunt-force trauma to the head.
York County Superior Court Judge Wayne R. Douglas ordered that Buchannan be held without bail on Tuesday. He also ordered Buchannan to undergo a mental health evaluation. Buchannan did not enter a plea during the videoconference appearance.
Buchannan told police he recalled seeing a man running toward them and saw Pattelena making hand gestures before he felt threatened and “blacked out,” the affidavit stated, according to the Portsmouth Herald.
The paper reported that a part of the attack was captured on video that appeared to show the suspect striking Pattelena while her back was turned to him. Buchannan allegedly told police he remembered seeing his girlfriend lying on the ground before walking away, reports said. He also allegedly told police he saw a man running toward them and felt threatened before he blacked out, according to reports.
Authorities collected evidence from the scene including the rock which appeared to be a weapon used in the assault, the affidavit stated.
State police said the two were domestic partners and had one child together. The child wasn’t present during the attack.
Buchannan had recently reentered Pattelena’s life, her sister told the Boston Globe. She added that the beach in York was Pattelena’s favorite place since childhood.
“We used to go there every summer, every summer,” Jessica Pattelena told the Globe. “She was a mermaid. She loved the beach. She always had her toes in the sand. She loved the waves.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report