Orient man arrested in connection with Amity triple homicide

The pickup truck missing since three people were found dead, victims of an apparent triple homicide, in an Amity trailer on Wednesday is carried on a flatbed truck away from a clearing in Weston on Saturday. (Bangor Daily News/ Nick Sambides Jr.)   (WEB EDITION PHOTO)
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The pickup truck missing since three people were found dead, victims of an apparent triple homicide, in an Amity trailer on Wednesday is carried on a flatbed truck away from a clearing in Weston on Saturday. (Bangor Daily News/ Nick Sambides Jr.) (WEB EDITION PHOTO)
Posted Sept. 10, 2010, at 7:04 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:50 a.m.

HOULTON, Maine — An Orient man who police say admitted helping conceal evidence in the killing of three people in the Aroostook County town of Amity in June was arrested early Friday evening and charged in connection with the triple homicide.

Robert Strout, 63, was arrested at his home just after 4 p.m., according to officials with the Attorney General’s Office and the Maine State Police.

The arrest by state police came after Strout was indicted Friday afternoon by the Aroostook County grand jury on a Class B charge of hindering apprehension and a Class A charge of arson. Both are felony offenses, with the Class B charge punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine and the Class A charge punishable by up to 30 years in jail and a $50,000 fine.

Strout’s name and the charges against him were not released with the indictment list pending his arrest.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Stokes and state police Detective Sgt. John Cote confirmed the arrest after Strout was taken into custody Friday evening. Stokes also confirmed that the charges stemmed from the Amity triple homicide.

“He was arrested at his home and he was cooperative,” said Cote. “He was taken to the Aroostook County Jail.”

Bail has been set at $100,000 surety or $20,000 cash, according to Cote. If Strout does not make bail over the weekend, his first court appearance likely will take place on Monday.

The arrest comes a little more than two months after Thayne Ormsby, 20, was arrested and charged in connection with the June 22 stabbing deaths of Jeffrey Ryan, 55, of Amity, his 10-year-old son, Jesse Ryan, and the elder Ryan’s friend Jason Dehahn, 30. All three were killed at the U.S. Route 1 home owned by Jeffrey Ryan.

In the weeks before the killings, Ormsby lived a short distance from the crime scene at the Orient home of Robert Strout.

Strout told police in July that a bloodied Ormsby came to his home after the killings and threatened to kill his family if he did not help Ormsby cover up evidence of the crime, according to an affidavit written by state police Detective Josh Haines.

Ormsby told Strout, according to the affidavit filed in court, that 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 Weston residence where Ormsby reportedly burned his blood-soaked clothing in the woman’s furnace.

Tamara Strout is Robert Strout’s daughter. She also has a teenage daughter with Jeffrey Ryan. Ormsby was connected to the Strout family because his mother, Maria Ormsby, is a longtime friend of Tamara Strout.

Ormsby told detectives before his arrest that he planned to move up to Tamara Strout’s residence in Weston, fix it up and live there with her and Jeffrey Ryan’s daughter, Mariah Ryan.

After Ormsby burned the blood-soaked clothing, Robert Strout followed Ormsby as Ormsby drove Jeffrey Ryan’s truck to Weston to burn it, according to the police affidavit.

Strout also told police that he drove Ormsby to a bog where Ormsby got out and threw a knife into the water, the affidavit said. State police divers searched the bog but have refused to confirm whether they recovered a weapon.

Strout also reportedly told police that on June 25 he drove Ormsby to New Hampshire to stay with his son Robert Strout II.

Jamie Merrill, the mother of Jesse Ryan, said Friday evening that she was “thrilled” to hear about Strout’s arrest.

“I think it’s great,” Merrill, who lives in Lewiston, said during a telephone interview. “I think it is the best news I’ve heard in some time. I have called everyone to tell them the good news. I am just as happy to hear about his arrest as I was to hear about Thayne Ormsby’s.”

Merrill said that the fact that Strout continued to be free even after he told police that he helped Ormsby cover up evidence of the crime has been “really bothering me.”

“The fact that he has been out drinking coffee like it’s any other day has been hard to take,” she said.

According to a police affidavit, Ormsby confessed to the killings to state police Detective Dale Keegan. He pleaded not guilty to three charges of murder in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton on July 22 and remains held without bail. Ormsby also pleaded not guilty to an arson charge in connection with the burning of Jeffrey Ryan’s truck.

According to the affidavit, Ormsby told a detective that he killed Jeffrey Ryan because he believed Ryan was a drug dealer. Ryan’s family has denied the claim, and a criminal background check on Jeffrey Ryan revealed no history of drug-related offenses.

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