ELLSWORTH, Maine — “Life is good.”
That was the last message Thayne Ormsby, the 20-year-old man charged with the murder of three people in Amity last month, posted on his Facebook page.
Below Ormsby’s posting on Facebook is a response to his message, posted just a few days ago by a high school classmate.
“This makes me sad. How did things change so much in just over two months?”
Others in the Ellsworth area are wondering the same thing — how a seemingly good-natured, well-liked young teen from the area could become involved in a triple murder.
Ormsby made that Facebook entry on April 22, two months before Jeffrey Ryan, his 10-year-old son, Jesse, and a family friend, Jason Dehahn, were stabbed to death at Ryan’s home in Amity. Ormsby was arrested in New Hampshire on July 2 and has been charged with three counts of murder. On Monday, he was returned to Maine and will be held at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton pending a scheduled court appearance on July 21.
Though several classmates remembered Ormsby as a friendly teenager, some also said that he had a dark side and that he had changed before he left high school.
Ormsby attended Ellsworth High School within the last several years, where he was a member of the track and wrestling teams. He had been named to the honor roll at the high school, but did not graduate.
“He was a student here and no problems,” Principal William Connors said last week.
Those who have commented on Ormsby remark that he had a troubled home life, but still was friendly and a nice guy.
“It’s soooo shocking,” said one classmate’s message on Facebook. “I don’t know anyone who didn’t think he was a good guy.”
Another classmate remembered him as a regular churchgoer.
“When I knew him, he was a Sunday-Wednesday churchgoer, and he went to Bible study groups on Thursdays,” classmate Nick Applebee said in a recent e-mail.
Despite that image, fellow student Brandon Bouchard, 19, of Ellsworth, a 2009 Ellsworth High graduate, said Ormsby had a dark side. Bouchard said he first met Ormsby during his freshman year when they both were members of the high school cross-country team.
“He was a good kid back then,” Bouchard said in a telephone interview last week. “He had a different group of friends, but he was well-liked by everyone from there.”
Ormsby had a rough childhood, a “tough life from the start,” according to Bouchard, who said Ormsby could be rough with his classmates at times.
“He did show some violent tendencies,” Bouchard said. “Nothing too extreme, just rough every now and then. He was a wrestler. He had sheer, brute strength. We’d known that for a long time. We knew to stay out of his face so we didn’t get a hard punch to the arm.”
Alexander Keefe, a 2010 Ellsworth graduate, also remembered Ormsby as a “pretty good guy” who for some reason changed.
The two met as members of the high school track team when Keefe was a freshman and Ormsby a junior.
“He was always pretty much positive,” Keefe said in a telephone interview last week. “He was always encouraging the new people, especially me. He was pretty supportive.”
But at some point in his high school stay, Ormsby changed, according to Keefe.
“At one point, he became very confused about where he was going with his life,” Keefe said.
The confusion may have been related to a failed attempt to join the Marines, he said. Ormsby had talked about joining the Marines and told Keefe that if he didn’t do that, he wouldn’t do anything else.
“When that fell through, he seemed lost about what he was doing with his life,” Keefe said. “He seemed very confused.”
Both Keefe and Bouchard said they suspected that he may have gotten involved in drugs at that time. Although several former Ellsworth High students were listed as “friends” on Ormsby’s Facebook page, both said that he drifted away from former school friends.
“He alienated himself from the rest of us,” Keefe said. “He became somebody else.”
Even though Keefe said that Ormsby had “gone over to the dark side,” he said he was shocked by the murders and the possibility his classmate is involved in them.
“I never would have expected that from him,” he said. “I knew he had some family issues, but not enough to sink to that level.”
Bouchard agreed that he never would have suspected that Ormsby was capable of the actions he has been charged with.
“No way, absolutely not,” he said. “We knew he was like an American Viking and could probably stay out in the woods forever. But I never would have predicted anything like this happening.”