Victim’s family seeking answers in Amity killings

Posted July 04, 2010, at 9:24 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:54 a.m.

AMITY, Maine — Family members of one of the victims of a brutal triple murder that took place last month in this small town in southwestern Aroostook County were still looking for answers to an array of questions in the troubling case that continues to be under investigation.

Twenty-year-old Thayne Ormsby of Orient was arrested in Dover, N.H., on Friday and charged with three counts of murder in connection with the stabbing deaths of two Amity men and a 10-year-old boy. Police said Saturday that the investigation is still very much under way.

“This investigation is ongoing, and there may or may not be more charges as things progress,” Maine State Police Lt. Thomas Kelly said Saturday. “Police are continuing to gather evidence in this case, and if that evidence supports additional charges, that is what is going to happen.”

Ormsby was being held on a fugitive charge in Dover, N.H., where he told Maine State Police Detective Dale Keegan that he stabbed all three victims to death.

According to an affidavit written by state police Detective Josh Haines, police questioned Ormsby six days after the stabbing deaths of Jeffrey Ryan, 55, his son Jesse, 10, and Jason Dehahn, 30, a close friend of the elder Ryan. Dehahn was visiting the mobile home at 163 U.S. Route 1 at the time of the slayings.

Ormsby voluntarily provided fingerprints and DNA samples to police when he initially was questioned. Those samples matched fingerprints on a beer can and DNA from a cigarette butt collected by police from the scene of the killings, according to the affidavit.

Kelly said Ormsby is the only one charged in connection with the triple homicide thus far. The 20-year-old had been staying in Orient for about three weeks before the murders and had been living in Ellsworth before that, according to his Facebook page. He is a 2008 graduate of Ellsworth High School.

Ormsby reportedly told police that he killed Jeffrey Ryan because he thought Ryan was a drug dealer.

A criminal background check on Ryan revealed no history of drug-related offenses.

Robert Dehahn, the father of Jason Dehahn, said in an interview Saturday that he did not know Ormsby and was not sure whether he believed Ormsby acted alone in committing the murders.

“That’s a tough question for me to answer right now,” Dehahn said. “It is possible that he was the only person, but it’s hard to believe because my son was a strong, rugged boy. I know that Ormsby took him by surprise [the morning of the killings], but it’s still hard to believe.”

Ormsby told police he came to Orient around Memorial Day to stay at the home of Robert and Joy Strout. The Strouts’ daughter Tamara Strout is a longtime friend of Thayne Ormsby’s mother, Maria Ormsby of Otis.

Maria Ormsby declined to comment when contacted Sunday morning.

Tamara Strout also has a teenage daughter with Jeffrey Ryan. The teenager, Mariah Ryan, reportedly was dating Ormsby.

According to the affidavit, Jeffrey Ryan was stabbed to death in a woodshed on his property. Minutes later, Ormsby ran into the home and saw Dehahn and Jesse Ryan sitting on the couch. Dehahn tried to flee the home but the 20-year-old caught him and stabbed him twice before dragging his body to a ditch at the end of the dooryard. He then returned to the home to stab the boy to death in a back bedroom, according to the affidavit.

Ormsby gave no motive for killing Jesse Ryan or Dehahn.

Ormsby told police he had met Jeffrey Ryan just once, during a brief visit to the Ryan home two or three weeks before the killings. He also said he had never met Jesse Ryan or Dehahn, according to the affidavit.

Jake Dehahn, 27, of Amity, the brother of Jason Dehahn, said he did not believe Ormsby’s account of being inside the Ryan home before the killings.

“Jeff would have said something [about a visit by Ormsby],” Jake Dehahn said Saturday. He said Jeffrey Ryan told him he had gotten into a verbal altercation with Ormsby in June and that Ryan did not want Ormsby around his daughter.

Strout, 63, was questioned by police four days after the slayings. At first, Strout told police he had driven to Sanford by himself on June 25 — two days after the deaths — and returned the next day. During a simultaneous interview, Taunya Strout, one of Robert Strout’s daughters, told police that her father had taken Ormsby to Dover, N.H., during that time period so Ormsby could stay with Robert Strout II, presumably the elder Strout’s son. Robert Strout later admitted that he indeed had taken Ormsby to New Hampshire.

During questioning on Friday, July 2, Strout told police that on the morning of the murders, he saw Ormsby come through the woods to his home, his clothing soaked in blood. Strout told police that at first Ormsby told him he had killed Jeffrey Ryan and then said he “killed them all.”

Strout said Ormsby threatened him, telling him that if he didn’t help him he would kill Strout’s family.

According to the affidavit, Ormsby told Strout he had stolen Jeffrey Ryan’s truck and had to get rid of it. Strout, in his own Dodge pickup, followed Ormsby who drove Jeffrey Ryan’s truck to Tamara Strout’s Springer Road residence. Police believe Ormsby parked the truck behind the woman’s residence and went into her home still wearing the blood-soaked clothing.

Robert Strout told police he left and returned later to see Ormsby leave the home wearing only his underwear.

Ormsby reportedly burned the bloody clothing in the furnace of Tamara Strout’s home.

Strout, again driving his own vehicle, followed Ormsby in the Ryan vehicle to the field road in Weston where Ryan’s burned-out truck eventually was found. After Ormsby burned the truck, he told Strout he had to dispose of the knife, so Strout drove Ormsby to a bog on U.S. Route 1 in Orient where Ormsby threw the knife into the water.

During a search of Strout’s home Friday, police confiscated the 63-year-old man’s truck.

Members of the Maine State Police Dive Team searched the bog Friday and Saturday, but Kelly said Saturday he could not reveal what, if anything, was recovered.

Several Amity residents, who asked not to be identified, said Saturday that police also searched Tamara Strout’s home Saturday morning. Kelly said he could not comment on that matter, either.

It is not clear at this point whether Tamara Strout was at home when Ormsby came to the residence after the murders or whether she knew he had burned his blood-soaked clothing in her furnace.

Jake Dehahn said Tamara Strout’s Springer Road home had been abandoned for a time, but said he thought she had started living in it before the murders occurred.

Jake Dehahn said Saturday that he had a hard time believing Strout was threatened by Ormsby.

“That doesn’t make sense,” he said. “If he felt so threatened, why did he get in a truck with this kid and drive him all the way to New Hampshire?”

Ormsby told police it was Strout who told him that he had to “get out of state” after the murders and denied threatening him or any of his family members.

“Bob knew this guy just killed three people,” Jake Dehahn continued, “and yet he took the kid to his own son’s home? No way. I don’t believe he felt threatened by this guy at all.”

Kelly would not discuss whether charges were pending against Robert Strout or Tamara Strout.

Dehahn said Jeffrey Ryan was a disabled veteran who suffered from a back injury and had a prescription for a narcotic painkiller. He said he did not believe Ryan was selling drugs.

Jason Dehahn left behind a wife, Crystal, and three young children. Jake Dehahn said Crystal Dehahn is out of town visiting her mother and is doing “as well as can be expected.”

Dehahn said his own family remains in a state of disbelief over what has happened.

“To me, this is just like a movie,” he said Saturday. “I just want the police to figure all of this out. We need answers.”

In New Hampshire, Donald Hiltz told the New Hampshire Union Leader over the weekend that he ran into Thayne Ormsby while Ormsby was staying with a friend at an apartment in Dover, N.H., after the killings in Amity. Hiltz, who lives in the Dover apartment complex, said he struck up a conversation with Ormsby in the parking lot. During the conversation, Hiltz said Ormsby started “talking about how he was an alcoholic and he gets very vicious when he drinks.”

Extradition proceedings for Ormsby are expected to be held Tuesday or Wednesday in New Hampshire, according to police.

BDN writer Bill Trotter in Ellsworth and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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