AMITY, Maine — A 20-year-old Orient man charged in the stabbing deaths of two Amity residents and a 10-year-old boy is being held without bail in New Hampshire after appearing in court Tuesday morning.
Thayne Ormsby was arraigned in district court in Rochester, N.H., on a charge of being a fugitive from justice. He appeared by video hookup from the Strafford County Jail in Dover, N.H. He did not have a lawyer and did not enter a plea.
Ormsby has been charged in Maine in the stabbing deaths of 55-year-old Jeffrey Ryan, Ryan’s 10-year-old son, Jesse, and 30-year-old Jason Dehahn on June 23 at the Ryan home in the northern Maine town of Amity near the Canadian border.
An extradition hearing was scheduled for July 16 in Dover, N.H., where Ormsby was arrested Friday.
Police have released few details about Ormsby, who lists his hometown as Ellsworth on his Facebook page. But two people who say they got to know Ormsby well over the past few years stepped forward this week, painting two different pictures of an individual one called “unfailingly polite” and the other characterized as “a walking monster.”
Two years ago, Ormsby was one of three live-in campaign aides working to help Republican John Frary, a Farmington resident and former college professor, carry out his ultimately unsuccessful bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud during the 2008 election.
The tall, blond young man was hardworking, “unfailingly polite” and knowledgeable, but at the same time immature and unmotivated, according to Frary, who said he doesn’t recall how Ormsby came to join his campaign.
Ormsby’s life seemed rudderless, Frary told the Bangor Daily News in interviews Monday and Tuesday.
Frary parted ways with his then-18-year-old aide after the campaign only to take him in again for a short time in early 2009. Ormsby left again a short time later, and the two stayed in contact sporadically by Facebook until Frary heard about Ormsby’s arrest.
The Thayne Ormsby accused of murder “is a stranger to me,” said Frary. “During the time I knew Thayne, I never saw any violence in him, nor did I even hear him speak of violence.”
Frary said that he has given shelter in his Farmington home to a number of people over the years. He said he believed at the time that Ormsby had been residing with roommates in the town of Industry, but had been kicked out after he fell behind on the rent.
Throughout the 2008 campaign, Frary said, he gave Ormsby room and board and a small salary for his work.
“He told me that the first time he had ever slept in sheets was at my home,” Frary said.
Frary said that Ormsby was at the wheel as he campaigned around the state and that the teenager introduced him at events and handed out campaign literature.
The Farmington resident described Ormsby as “polite to the point of obsequiousness.”
“He read a lot and was pretty smart, smarter than most people his age,” he said. “He did his job skillfully, and he was very good at talking with people. People who came to know him through me were amazed. He was very smooth.”
Ormsby got along well with the other campaign aides, according to Frary, and his only addiction seemed to be to cigarettes.
“I don’t believe he was doing drugs when I knew him,” he said. “He didn’t have the money or a vehicle to go out and get them, and I never smelled [marijuana] smoke in my home.”
After the campaign fizzled, Frary said that Ormsby’s purpose in life seemed to do the same.
“During the campaign, he had tasks to do, he had a direction in his life,” he said. “After it ended, he had nothing.”
Ormsby continued to live with Frary after the campaign ended, making plans that Frary said never came to fruition. One recurring theme seemed to be a desire to join the U.S. Marine Corps. Frary drove him to a local recruiting office one day, only to find it closed. After that, Frary said, Ormsby decided he no longer wanted to join.
Frary said that Ormsby seemed depressed about his life and his prospects for the future. Ormsby did not speak well of his family, according to Frary, but when Frary visited his family at their Ellsworth home, they talked and teased cheerfully and seemed to love one another. Frary said that the now-20-year-old never talked about his father or of any connection to Amity or Orient when he was around him.
Frary said he last heard from Ormsby a few weeks before the homicides, when they reconnected by Facebook, an online social networking site.
“He told me he was living in Orient, and I asked him how he got there,” he said. “He answered me and I corrected his spelling in the message and that was it. I never heard from him again.”
Frary acknowledged that Ormsby was “impressionable,” and when given a task, he did it quickly with total commitment, without question. He added that Ormsby reminded him of the title character in the 1999 movie “The Talented Mr. Ripley.”
In that film, Ripley is a poor college student with a chameleonlike ability to transform into anyone he chooses. He latches on to a wealthy friend and soon embraces that lifestyle, ultimately killing his friend and using his identity to continue living as a rich, globe-traveling socialite who charms those around him.
“When I think of that film now, that is what Ormsby seemed to be like,” Frary said. “He said that he did not come from wealth, but he had no trouble mingling with the affluent. He acquired their speech, their mannerisms. He did that very easily and very quickly.”
Frary has shared online some of his comments about Ormsby.
When Ormsby left Frary’s residence in 2009, Father Lewis Glidden of St. Stephen The Martyr Anglican Church in Oakland offered him a hand.
Glidden told the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday that he met Ormsby through Frary and let the young man stay at his home.
“He seemed to be having a hard time,” Glidden said Tuesday. “He didn’t have a job or any money, so I let him stay with me.”
Glidden said that Ormsby did some work at his home and at the church and took care of Glidden’s pets when he traveled to China in January 2010.
Glidden said that he was in China when he received some disturbing phone calls from parishioners.
“They told me Thayne was having mood swings,” Glidden said. “He was going from one extreme to the other, and the ladies who came in contact with him were afraid of him and what he would do. I also learned that Thayne had taken my car without permission and traveled to Ellsworth and spent the week there.”
By that time, Glidden said, he had already become afraid of Ormsby, so he had him removed from the property. Ormsby left in February.
Glidden said that when he first got to know Ormsby, he seemed like a “nice kid.” But Glidden said that he soon saw that Ormsby seemed to have two personalities: one that was manipulative and deceitful, the other that seemed helpless and in need of support.
Glidden said that while Ormsby was living with him, he tried to help him get a job. He even set up an antique shop in New Sharon for Ormsby to operate, filling the store with some of his own property and that of others. The business soon folded because Ormsby wouldn’t show up for work, according to Glidden, at one time taking the whole month of December off. Glidden said he also tried to convince Ormsby to return to school and get his high school diploma, telling the young man that he could continue to stay with him, rent-free, while he did it. He said that every time he would suggest Ormsby do something he didn’t want to, Ormsby became furious. Money also started to go missing from his home. Glidden believes Ormsby also took a small amount of money that was set out in the church kitchen. Glidden said that he also felt Ormsby was doing drugs.
“I was afraid of him,” Glidden said Tuesday. “He got angry over little things, like if you suggested things he didn’t want to hear. His eyes would go as cold as ice. It would send chills up my spine. It was in China that I decided that I had done as much as I could for him and that the church had done all that they could do for him. I hated to do it, to put him out on the street. I wonder sometimes if I could have prevented this [the killings] if I had just tried a little harder.”
Glidden said that Ormsby became distraught and angry when a girlfriend he was dating broke up with him and moved on to another man.
“It was during times like those that I tried to get him to take steps to make his life better,” said Glidden. “But he just wouldn’t help himself. I started to realize that he didn’t have control over himself or his anger. Others in the church saw it, too, but none of us could believe it when we really found out what he was capable of.”
Glidden said that he now believes Ormsby is a “walking monster.”
“I do intend to go see him as a priest when he returns to Maine,” Glidden said Tuesday. “I am only doing so because I don’t think he is capable of understanding what he has done. It is not the criminal justice system that is going to hold him accountable. I want to help him see that it is God who will ultimately hold him accountable.”