Albert Flick was supposed to be too old to pose a threat to anyone.
When he came before a judge in Portland, Maine, in 2010, he was in his late 60s, and had spent roughly a third of his life in prison. After doing time for killing his wife, he had assaulted another woman and gone back to jail, only to get out and attack a third woman. Flick’s violent tendencies didn’t seem likely to go away with age, both the prosecutor and his probation officer warned. But the judge chose to sentence him to just shy of four years in prison, noting that by the time he was released in 2014, he would be 72 or 73.
“At some point Mr. Flick is going to age out of his capacity to engage in this conduct,” Maine Superior Court Justice Robert E. Crowley said, according to the Portland Press Herald, “and incarcerating him beyond the time that he ages out doesn’t seem to me to make good sense.”
Eight years after that hearing, Flick struck again, fatally stabbing a woman outside a laundromat in Lewiston, Maine, as her 11-year-old twin sons watched. Now 77, he was convicted of murder on Wednesday, and, this time, it looks likely that he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison. The charges carry a minimum 25-year sentence, and prosecutors plan to request that he be placed behind bars for life.
Statistically speaking, the judge who predicted that Flick would age out of criminal behavior wasn’t wrong: A study compiled by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2017 found that only 13.4 percent of offenders who were 65 or older when they got out of prison were arrested again in the eight-year period following their release, compared to 68 percent of those under the age of 21.
But Flick was the exception. His first murder conviction came in 1979, when he was living in Westbrook, Maine, and working as a doughnut maker. That January, his wife, Sandra Flick, served him with divorce papers and had him escorted from their apartment by police. Three weeks later, when she asked him to come back and pick up his belongings, Flick brought his jackknife with him, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported.
Sandra Flick’s daughter from another marriage was home at the time, and watched through a crack in the door as Albert Flick bent her mother’s arm behind her back and put his hand over her mouth. When the 12-year-old heard a scream, she ran for help. A neighbor arrived to find Sandra Flick covered in blood. She had been stabbed 14 times, and lived just long enough to tell the neighbor that her husband was responsible.
Originally sentenced to three decades in prison, Flick got out after 21 years because of good behavior, according to WCSH. Not long after his release in 2000, he ended up behind bars again. In 2007, he was charged with punching a woman he was dating and stabbing her with a fork, then trying to intimidate her so that she wouldn’t testify against him. Then, in 2010, after getting out of prison yet again, he assaulted a different woman in his Portland apartment.
The woman told authorities that she and Flick had argued, and he had put her in a headlock and hit her repeatedly with the butt-end of a knife, then chased her with a screwdriver when she managed to escape. Police found Flick trying to hang himself from a fire escape when they arrived at the building.
After the attack, prosecutor Katherine Tierney asked the judge to sentence Flick to roughly eight years in prison, arguing that his violent behavior toward women was unlikely to change as he grew older, and the only solution was “significant” prison time.
“Clearly, probation is not working,” she said, according to the Press Herald. “At this point, I just don’t know what else to do. I think there’s a huge safety risk to women and society when it comes to Mr. Flick.”
Flick’s probation officer, Troy Thornton, similarly told the judge that Flick was “an extremely violent individual when it comes to relationships,” the paper reported.
“He doesn’t appear to have slowed down at this point,” Thornton said, “and I don’t see him slowing down in the near future.”
Those warnings proved to be prescient. In 2014, after serving the nearly four-year sentence handed down by Crowley, Flick was arrested for threatening the woman whom he had chased with a screwdriver, telling her, “You’ll get yours” when they ran into each other on the street. The septuagenarian pleaded guilty to violating his probation, and was sent back to prison until 2016.
After getting out, he relocated to the Lewiston area. There, he met Kimberly Dobbie, who was living at a homeless shelter with her two sons.
Witnesses who testified in court this week said that Flick developed an obsession with the 48-year-old, following her from the shelter to the public library, the bus stop and Dunkin’ Donuts. Though she never reported him to the police, she told her friends that she didn’t appreciate the attention. The mother of two planned to move to an apartment in Farmington, about an hour away, and made it clear to Flick that he wasn’t coming.
Flick went to Walmart and purchased two pink-handled paring knives.
“It became if ‘I can’t have her, I will kill her,” Assistant Attorney General Bud Ellis told jurors, according to WGME. “And that’s exactly what he did.”
On July 15, 2018, Flick followed Dobbie to the laundromat, where surveillance footage captured him stabbing her at least 11 times. It took jurors only 40 minutes to convict him of murder on Wednesday, even though they weren’t told of his previous history of violence toward women.
Crowley, the judge who predicted that Flick would “age out” of his violent behavior, retired from the bench in 2010, the same year that he handed down the nearly four-year sentence. At the time, he was widely praised by attorneys, other judges, and even the father of one convicted murderer, who wrote a letter to thank him for treating the family with dignity. He told the Press Herald, which noted that he was stepping down while “at the top of his game,” that he wanted to return to private practice.
Now a mediator at a firm in Portland, he could not immediately be reached for comment late Thursday night.
“I firmly believe this could have been prevented,” Elsie Clement, whose mother was stabbed to death by Flick in 1979, told the Press Herald last year. “There is no reason this man should have been on the streets in the first place, no reason.”