Truck linked to triple slaying found in Weston

Posted June 26, 2010, at 6:05 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:54 a.m.

The 1989 Ford F-150 pickup sought in connection with Wednesday’s triple homicide in Amity was found on a private tote road Saturday morning 15 miles south in Weston.

The truck, which was burned, was found around 11:30 a.m. by a landowner while he was out on his property, according to a news release from the Maine Department of Public Safety.

State police detectives and investigators from the state Fire Marshal’s Office were at the site Saturday gathering evidence. Officials planned to move the truck to the State Police Crime Lab in Augusta on Saturday night.

Amity residents Jeffrey Ryan, 55, his son Jesse Ryan, 10, and Jason Dehahn, 30, were found dead Wednesday night, state police Lt. Gary Wright said. The truck was registered to Jeffrey Ryan.

A relative, whom police would not identify, discovered the bodies Wednesday night. 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 at about 9:30 p.m., found the bodies of all three victims and called 911.

Ryan and his son lived at the residence, according to police, and Dehahn was a friend who did not reside there.

A man who identified himself as Jason Dehahn’s brother said in a telephone interview that he and his father found the boy’s body in a back room when they went to Ryan’s home in search of Jason on Wednesday night. They returned home and called police, who later found the other bodies, he said.

“We haven’t a clue,” he said. “We can’t imagine anybody would do anything like that.”

The evidence response team at the trailer scene on Friday appeared to collect several pieces of evidence from the driver’s side floor of a tan car owned by Ryan that was parked outside of his trailer.

By Friday evening, friends or family members had left nine flower arrangements along the road outside the trailer, including three crosses dedicated to the victims.

Whoever killed the three was likely known to at least one of the two men, said Shannon Ryan, 35, of Texas, a self-employed motorcycle sales- and serviceman who is one of Jeffrey Ryan’s children.

Ryan speculated that several people had to have killed the three, as Jeffrey Ryan’s two Rottweiler dogs and Ryan and Dehahn would not have let a stranger or strangers into the home. Also, state police have told the family that nothing appears to have been stolen from the house except the pickup, Shannon Ryan said.

“No way could one person overpower two guys,” Shannon Ryan said in a telephone interview on Friday. “My dad told me that if you did not know the dogs, they would bark and sound pretty aggressive. You couldn’t just walk on past them. If they didn’t know you, he would have to go out there and walk you by them. That’s the only way.”

Ryan also objected strenuously to claims from his father’s ex-wife, Jamie Merrill of Lewiston, that the elder Ryan was selling and using prescription drugs. A disabled veteran, Jeffrey Ryan was a doting father who won custody of Jesse Ryan after a bitter fight with Merrill, Shannon Ryan said. He would not have won custody had he been the bad man his ex-wife describes, Ryan added.

A criminal record check with the state court system on Friday revealed only one conviction against Jeffrey Ryan — for disorderly conduct in 1992, for which he was fined $100. 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 biggest thing I have been dealing with is all these negative things about my father,” Shannon Ryan said. “My father had two things in his life: his home and his son.”

Wright declined to comment Friday on what police think might have motivated the crime.

“We are aware of what the ex-wife has said and some of that same information she has shared with us,” Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland said.

Records of the divorce of Jeffrey Ryan and Jamie Merrill obtained from Houlton District Court on Friday show the two shared custody of their son but that Jesse Ryan resided primarily with his father. The divorce was completed in October 2007 and was based on “irreconcilable differences.” The couple had been married since September 1998.

Shannon Ryan described his father as a practical joker who loved to hunt, fish and grow his own vegetables. He said he spoke to his father every week or so, including the Wednesday previous to the homicide, and said his father sounded fine during their last conversation.

He described Dehahn as a close friend of Jeffrey Ryan who lived a mile down the road from the Ryan residence.

“They were friends for about 11 years,” Ryan said. “They were like brothers.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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