Former Portland burrito shop owner was fatally stabbed, court records say
Feb. 22—A Portland man who once ran a popular burrito shop was violently stabbed to death last week in the entryway of his apartment building, police said.
Several neighbors heard fighting and cries for help before calling 911 to try to save 58-year-old Christopher Godin, according to an affidavit filed Tuesday by Portland Police Detective Andjelko Napijalo.
Police have charged Jonathan Alas, 27, with the stabbing. He is being held without bail. Both men lived at 263 Cumberland Ave., where police found Godin dead, with multiple stab wounds, in the lobby shortly after 7 p.m. Friday.
One neighbor who witnessed the stabbing told police he didn't recognize Alas but that he thought he was on drugs because "he seemed to be pretty mellow about the whole thing," the affidavit said. "He turned around and looked at me, and he turned back and stabbed him (Chris) again. Like he wasn't in any type of shock at all.'"
Alas was found in his apartment with a single puncture wound in his abdomen. He was taken to Maine Medical Center, where he was still being treated as of his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon. Alas' attorney, Matthew Crockett, said Wednesday that it was too early for him to comment on the allegations.
The witness told police he was in his apartment watching movies Friday when he heard "fighting, knocking and things being thrown around" in Godin's apartment below and then heard someone yell for help from the hallway, the affidavit said.
When the neighbor went into the hall and looked down the stairwell, he saw Godin trying to get away from a younger man who was stabbing him with a kitchen knife. The neighbor yelled at the man to stop and then went back to his apartment and called 911.
Other residents said they later saw Godin lying on the ground, while a man with a large knife stood nearby.
Godin was well known in Portland as the founder of Granny's Burritos, a restaurant that for many years was synonymous with Old Port nightlife. It later moved to the Portland Public Market before closing in 2017. Friends this week said they were shocked to hear of his death and remembered him as kind, generous and entrepreneurial.
"There was never anyone in the world as kind," said Jeff Glidden, a friend of Godin's, in an interview Monday. "He was so loving, and so full of life. He never cared much about his own circumstance, you know. He was just always there for you with a smile."
The Cumberland Avenue apartment building is located on a busy street just steps from City Hall and Portland High School, and a handful of people were seen coming and going Wednesday afternoon.
David Coi, who has lived in the building for four years, teared up as he talked about Godin's death. Coi lives on the top floor and said he heard a sound "like someone was stumbling" Friday evening but he didn't know what had happened until police officers knocked on his door to make sure he was safe later that night.
"No clue," Coi said when asked if he had any idea what might have led to the stabbing.
"After what happened, it's kind of scary," said Coi, 49.
Coi said the building has 16 apartments and most share a community bathroom. He said he had seen Alas "come and go here and there" but didn't really know him.
At Peace Food Market, a bodega across the street, a store clerk who would not give his name said both men were regular customers.
He said Godin had visited the store Friday afternoon to buy groceries including chips, Oreos and milk. Godin was talkative and "came off as somebody who wants to know everything going on in the building and what the neighbors are doing," the clerk said.
Alas, he said, was not as outgoing and hadn't lived there as long. "He would say 'Hi' and 'Bye' and that's about it," the clerk said.
Alas has a criminal background that includes past convictions for domestic violence assault in 2018 and 2019 and for indecent conduct, aggravated assault and attempted unlawful sexual contact in 2020, according to records from the Maine State Bureau of Identification.
In the 2020 case, according to an affidavit filed by Westbrook police Officer Bryan Amaral, Alas attempted to force himself on a woman at Spring Harbor Hospital, a psychiatric facility, as the two were hanging out in a community room watching a movie and talking.
Alas pulled the woman into his room and dropped his pants, but she was able to leave. He later entered the woman's room, attempted to force himself on her and pulled her pants down, but a nurse walked in.
A filing from Alas' attorney at the time said Alas was a patient at the facility and had recently been released from prison. "The allegations on their face do not illustrate the rational actions of a rational human being," the filing said.