Relative of Amity victims questions factors in slayings

(BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY JOHN CLARKE RUSS)



CAPTION



Maine State Police detectives are back on the scene Friday morning investigating the triple homocides in Amity.  (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
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(BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY JOHN CLARKE RUSS) CAPTION Maine State Police detectives are back on the scene Friday morning investigating the triple homocides in Amity. (Bangor Daily News/John Clarke Russ)
Posted July 14, 2010, at 12:04 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:54 a.m.
Jeffrey Ryan, one of three killed in Amity slayings, in an undated photo. His son, Shannon Ryan wrote that the picture was taken &quota few years back but he still looked just like that beard and all my dad wasnt much on changing his looks. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Ryan) W/Lynds' story SHANNONRYAN.
Jeffrey Ryan, one of three killed in Amity slayings, in an undated photo. His son, Shannon Ryan wrote that the picture was taken "a few years back but he still looked just like that beard and all my dad wasnt much on changing his looks. (Photo courtesy of Shannon Ryan) W/Lynds' story SHANNONRYAN.

AMITY, Maine — At his home in Texas, Shannon Ryan has run through his mind over and over again the possible scenarios surrounding the homicides that ended the life of his father, Jeffrey Ryan, 55, his 10-year-old brother, Jesse Ryan, and family friend Jason Dehahn, 30.

Although he wants answers to many questions, Ryan said Tuesday he is fairly sure of one thing — that 20-year-old Thayne Ormsby, who is accused of killing all three of the individuals at the U.S. Route 1 home last month, did not act alone.

“I think there are others involved, and I want to see them arrested,” the 35-year-old said during a telephone interview this week. “My family also believes that Ormsby was not the only one involved. I just can’t see how that guy, who looks pretty scrawny to me, overpowered two strong men and killed them.”

Shannon Ryan grew up in Massachusetts but came to Maine to spend summers with his father. He also spent two years living in Weston when he was attending East Grand High School in Danforth. He said that he had just talked to his father a week before the slayings and spent about a week in Aroostook County after his father was killed.

Ryan said that there is no truth to claims that his father was a drug dealer and he denied a claim made by Robert Strout, an Orient man who gave shelter to Ormsby in the weeks before the slayings at the home he and his wife, Joy, own. Robert Strout told the Associated Press on Monday that Ormsby told him the killings followed a confrontation over a $10,000 drug debt owed to a third party.

According to an affidavit filed by Maine State Police, Ormsby, who lists his hometown as Ellsworth on his Facebook page, told a detective that he killed Jeffrey Ryan because he believed Ryan was a drug dealer.

“That is ridiculous,” Shannon Ryan said Tuesday. “My father had a prescription for Vicodin, but he’d had that for years. He was not a drug dealer. He was not selling drugs to anyone. There is no truth to that at all.”

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

Shannon Ryan said that when he was in Amity, he and family members went to his father’s home to get some of Jeffrey Ryan’s personal possessions to have as keepsakes. While he said that he did not want to talk about the scene inside the home, he said that “you could tell there was a struggle in the house.”

“I could tell that somebody fought in there,” he said. “My father was an ex-Army guy, and he knew how to fight. He also had guns in the home. He would not have allowed someone to hurt him or Jesse without a fight.”

Ryan said Tuesday that he walked all through his father’s property and that some of the details about the crime that he has heard or read about “don’t seem to fit.”

Jeffrey Ryan’s body was found in a woodshed on the property, according to a police affidavit. Shannon Ryan said that he was really confused about why his father was in the shed to begin with.

“I walked into the shed, and the only things in there are old tools and some old chain saws,” he said. It was just an old shed with unusable junk in it, he said. “Why was my dad outside in the woodshed?”

Ormsby reportedly did not discuss the crimes in detail with investigators, but police garnered information about the killings from Robert Strout. Strout said in the affidavit that Ormsby told him that after he “knifed Jeffrey Ryan in the woodshed,” he went back into the residence where Jason Dehahn and Jesse Ryan were sitting on the couch. Ormsby then reportedly told Strout that he stabbed Dehahn twice after Dehahn ran outside. He then went back inside where Jesse Ryan was reportedly “running around.” Ormsby then reportedly told Strout that he “knifed Jesse in the back bedroom,” according to the affidavit.

Shannon Ryan said that he is perplexed by that scenario.

“I know that supposedly Jesse was running around the house,” said Ryan. “Why would he do that? There is a back door in the home. Why didn’t he run out the back door? I know that he was frightened and maybe he was too frightened to think of it, but it’s just confusing. Did he not run out the back door because he was killed when he was sleeping? Those are the kinds of questions I have.

“I was told that the autopsy report will take a couple of months to complete, and maybe more of my questions will be answered then,” he said. “I know my dad was stabbed to death, but I don’t know where or how many times or what.”

Ryan said that a private funeral, which was not announced to the public, was held for his father just after the slayings. Shannon Ryan has three sisters, two of whom live in the state. One of them is Mariah Ryan, the teenage girl that Jeffrey Ryan fathered with Tamara Strout. Strout, who lives in Weston, is the daughter of Robert and Joy Strout. Mariah Ryan was reportedly dating Thayne Ormsby. Ormsby was connected to the Strout family because his mother, Maria Ormsby, is a longtime friend of Tamara Strout.

Shannon Ryan said that Jamie Merrill, who is the mother of Jesse Ryan, came to the Amity home from her residence in Lewiston to get some of her son’s things. No one else has entered the home, according to Shannon Ryan.

He said that the rumors about drug dealing were particularly hard to hear.

“Anyone who walked into that home could see that my dad’s life was all about Jesse,” he said. “There are pictures of me and my siblings as children in the home, but there are mostly pictures of Jesse. There were fishing poles in the home, and my dad built Jesse the tree fort that is outside and had the swimming pool and swing set set up for him. He also had the fire pit there so he and Jesse could roast marshmallows together.”

Shannon Ryan said that during a recent conversation with his father, Jeffrey Ryan told him how much he and Jesse liked watching NASCAR.

“My dad had just gone out and rented a plasma TV so that he and Jesse could watch NASCAR on the big screen,” he said Tuesday.

Shannon Ryan said that he does not plan to come to Maine for Ormsby’s July 21 arraignment, but he said that some of his relatives likely would attend. He said that he likely would attend future court hearings as the case progresses.

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