BANGOR — Police on Thursday arrested a second man in the stabbing death of 19-year-old Holly Boutilier of Old Town, whose body was found Aug. 9 in a shed hidden in trees along the Penobscot River.
Justin Ptaszynski, 27, of Bangor made his first appearance late Thursday afternoon in Penobscot County Superior Court. He was picked up without incident by Bangor police detectives around 9:30 a.m. and charged with intentional or knowing murder and hindering apprehension or prosecution.
Ptaszynski (pronounced tah-ZIN-ski) was with Colin Koehler, according to a police affidavit dated Aug. 12, when Koehler killed the Old Town teenager at a shack often used by the city’s homeless. The shack is located along the riverbank between the end of Dutton Street and Veterans’ Remembrance Bridge.
After Ptaszynski’s court appearance Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson declined to explain how the second man was involved in Boutilier’s death. The prosecutor also wouldn’t comment on what led to the charge of hindering apprehension or prosecution.
Benson also declined to specify why Ptaszynski was not arrested at the same time Koehler was charged.
“The investigation has been ongoing since [Koehler’s arrest],” the prosecutor said on the courthouse steps. Ptaszynski’s attorney, Jeffrey Silverstein of Bangor, however, said his client is not charged with “allegedly wielding the weapon” used to kill Boutilier. “The [prosecution’s] theory seems to be that he had some involvement in arranging the meeting between the victim and Koehler on the waterfront,” the defense attorney said.
An affidavit was not filed in Ptaszynski’s case because Silverstein stipulated there was probable cause for the state to file the charges.
The victim’s family attended the short hearing Thursday but declined to speak with reporters. Half a dozen people whom Silverstein described as “friends and supporters of Ptaszynski” also were present.
Police arrested Koehler, 34, on Aug. 10 after a standoff at his downtown Bangor apartment. Koehler was indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury on Aug. 24 for intentional or knowing murder. He is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Penobscot County Superior Court.
It is expected that Ptaszynski will be indicted by the grand jury on Sept. 28.
Both men are being held without bail at Penobscot County Jail, but could request bail hearings at a later date. The two, who likely will be tried separately, will be separated while in custody, according to a jail official.
Ptaszynski’s roommate, who asked that his name not be used, said Thursday afternoon that Ptaszynski has been uneasy since the killing and Koehler’s arrest.
“I could tell Justin was scared,” he said, standing in the doorway of the apartment the two men share. The man said he had been friends with Ptaszynski for more than 18 months and had known Koehler just over a year. “I know he [Ptaszynski] didn’t do nothing,” he said. “He’s innocent. He made no attempt to run or hide. He was very cooperative” with investigators.
“That saying, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ — that’s a lie,” the roommate said. “You’re guilty until proven innocent.”
Koehler, according to the affidavit filed last month in his case, stabbed Boutilier in the abdomen and cut her throat between 2 and 2:30 p.m. Aug 8. The document does not outline a motive for the slaying or state whether the weapon used in the killing was recovered. It also does not explain how Koehler, Ptaszynski and Boutilier knew one another or give details about their relationship.
Koehler, Ptaszynski and Boutilier went for a walk along the riverfront on Aug. 8, according to the affidavit filed in Koehler’s case. When the trio reached the shack, Ptaszynski told police, Koehler used a small curved Japanese-style knife to stab the Old Town woman multiple times and cut her throat.
Ptaszynski and Koehler were caught on Hollywood Slots video surveillance cameras leaving the area at 2:11 p.m. Aug. 8.
The two men, now both accused of Boutilier’s murder, walked down Main Street and stopped at Shaw’s supermarket before proceeding to Koehler’s Columbia Street apartment, where he allegedly placed the weapon on top of the refrigerator.
Koehler, according to the affidavit, admitted to his ex-girlfriend and her current boyfriend that he killed Boutilier.
Ptaszynski placed a call to Koehler, which was recorded by police, asking whether he got rid of the knife, the affidavit states.
“Koehler indicated that it was taken care of and that he had several other edged instruments in the apartment, making it seem as if the suspect weapon would blend in,” the document states.
When police raided Koehler’s apartment they took several weapons as evidence, but have not indicated whether the murder weapon was found. Police also collected clothing with dried blood on it.
If convicted of murder, both men face a minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life. If convicted of hindering apprehension or prosecution, Ptaszynski faces up to 10 years in prison.
Neither Koehler nor Ptaszynski has a prior criminal record in Maine.