AMITY, Maine — Tips from the public could greatly assist investigators in solving a triple homicide at a trailer on U.S. Route 1 in which two men and a 10-year-old boy were stabbed to death, Maine State Police said Friday.
After a late-morning meeting among detectives at the Houlton barracks, state police Lt. Gary Wright said public involvement could be “huge” in helping authorities solve the crimes.
Evidence Response Team investigators continued on Friday to pore over the trailer where the bodies of Amity residents Jeffrey Ryan, 55, his son Jesse Ryan, 10, and Jason Dehahn, 30, were found at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. The homicides most likely occurred in the early morning hours Wednesday, state police said.
The evidence response team at the scene on Friday appeared to collect several pieces of evidence from the driver’s side floor of a tan car Ryan owned that was parked outside of his trailer.
Police have received more than two dozen telephone calls reporting sightings of a blue-and-silver 1989 Ford F-150 pickup truck with license plate 4155RY missing from the home, but none that have led to the pickup, Wright said.
The truck has white-colored wheels in the front and silver in the back, and has orange running lights on top of the cab just above the windshield.
State police have posted a photo of a similar truck on the state of Maine and state police websites. Anyone who has seen the truck should call the Houlton barracks at 532-5400 or 911 on a cell phone.
Residents in the Amity area should be careful and report any suspicious activity to police, Wright said.
“We are asking people to pay attention to their own safety and lock their doors and vehicles,” he said.
A relative, whom police would not identify, discovered the bodies. The individual had been to the mobile home earlier in the day on Wednesday in search of a family member, Wright has said. The man returned to the home that evening, found the bodies of all three victims and called 911.
Ryan and his son lived at the residence, according to police, but Dehahn was a friend who did not reside at the dwelling.
Wright said Thursday that all three victims were stabbed, but he would not say what kind of weapon was used or divulge any other details about the killings.
Wright said police still were working to determine a motive for the crime and also were trying to determine if more than one perpetrator was involved in the killings.
A criminal record check with the state court system on Friday revealed that Jeffrey Ryan had been convicted of disorderly conduct in 1992 and fined $100, while Dehahn had been convicted in 2004 of operating under the influence, jailed for seven days, fined $400, and placed on one year’s probation.
The killings shocked residents of the quiet, wooded community. One of the closest neighbors to the mobile home, Dale Foley, who lives in Orient about two miles away, answered the door Thursday morning with a shotgun in hand. He said he was answering the door with the weapon in hand because of the killings. After putting the gun down, he said his son rode the school bus with Jesse Ryan during the school year. “I was up until 2 a.m. and never heard any noise,” Foley said. “Nothing like this ever happens here. This is tragic.”
Tara Jay of Amity, who lives just up the road from the family, also said that she did not hear anything suspicious on Wednesday or Wednesday evening. She said that while she had seen the family before, she did not know them well.
“Everyone I talk to is really concerned,” she said Thursday. “It’s so shocking.”
The stabbing deaths, especially of a child, have hit the locals hard, said Amity resident Larry Hamilton.
“You have to be pretty cold to stab a kid,” he said Thursday morning.
Word of the tragedy spread quickly as area residents began to call each other, Hamilton said.
“The phone was ringing early this morning,” he said.
“This is a small town and people are calling each other on the phone, talking that way.”
Joy Strout of Orient, who lives about a mile from the Ryan home, said her daughter Tamara Strout of Addison had a daughter with Jeffrey Ryan 16 years ago.
Both Tamara Strout and the teenage daughter, Mariah Ryan, arrived in Amity late Thursday afternoon. Tamara Strout said she recently had rekindled her relationship with Jeffrey Ryan.
“We were together for nine years, and we were going to get back together,” she said. “He had just asked me to marry him.”
Strout said she was not Jesse Ryan’s mother. The Lewiston Sun Journal reported that the mother is Jamie Merrill of Lewiston.
Strout said that Jeffrey Ryan had been married to his son’s mother for a time.
“They were married for about four years, but got divorced,” Strout said. “[Jesse] was a good boy. He had his moments like every kid, but he was a good boy. He attended the Mill Pond School in Hodgdon. My daughter is devastated. She loved her father and she loved Jesse.”
Jeffrey Ryan, who had lived in Amity for about 12 years, was a disabled veteran who served in the Vietnam War, according to Strout. She said that he and Jason Dehahn were “best friends.”
“Jason visited him pretty much every day,” Strout said Thursday evening.
Mariah Ryan arrived at the scene of the killings just after 2 p.m. and police allowed her to take a cat from the property.
Strout said that Jesse Ryan had been away for a time, possibly visiting his mother, and had just returned to Amity last week.
Joy Strout said she was shocked by the murders and that it was the last thing she ever expected to see happen in the community.
“We live here because we thought this kind of thing didn’t happen here,” she said Thursday.
Bangor Daily News writer Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.