PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — An Orient man who was arrested on Friday in connection with a triple homicide in Amity last June walked out of jail Monday a few hours after his bail was lowered during a court hearing.
Robert Strout Sr., 63, met his bail of $50,000 surety or $20,000 cash and was released from the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton at around 4 p.m., according to jail officials
Strout was indicted by the Aroostook County grand jury on Friday 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.
He was arrested Friday evening and remained at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton over the weekend.
Strout appeared early Monday afternoon in Presque Isle District Court by videoconference from the jail.
Strout, dressed in an orange jail uniform, told Judge Bernard O’Mara that he understood his rights and the charges against him before pleading not guilty to both.
Houlton attorney Jeff Pickering, who represented Strout during the hearing, requested that bail be lowered from the $100,000 surety or $20,000 cash that was set Friday.
Pickering argued that Strout is not likely to flee to avoid prosecution. He told the judge that Strout has known he was likely to be charged in the case for some time but has remained in Orient.
Aroostook County District Attorney Neale Adams, who represented the state during the hearing, argued against lowering the bail.
O’Mara agreed to lower the bail and set it at $50,000 surety or $20,000 cash.
Pickering said his client’s home in Orient was worth enough to meet the $50,000 surety requirements.
Strout’s arrest came 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.
The state alleges that Strout drove Ormsby to New Hampshire to stay at Strout’s son’s home on June 25, three days after the stabbings and after Ormsby told Strout that he committed the murders. Strout also allegedly helped Ormsby conceal evidence of the crime.
In the weeks before the killings, Ormsby lived a short distance from the crime scene at the Orient home of Strout and his wife, Joy Strout.
Strout told police in July that a bloodied Ormsby came to his home in the hours after the killings. He told Strout he had killed the three victims and threatened to kill Strout’s family if he did not help Ormsby cover up evidence of the crime, according to an affidavit written by Maine 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 Tamara and with Tamara 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.
The arson charge lodged against Strout stems from the truck-burning episode, according to the 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 say whether they recovered a weapon.
During Monday’s hearing, Strout told O’Mara that he has lived in Orient for seven years and has always shown up for court when required to be there.
Strout has a criminal history dating back to 1966, according to information revealed during a background check.
In 1966, Strout was living in Bar Harbor and was convicted of taking a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner. He served approximately three months in jail for the felony offense at what is now the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.
In 1972, he was convicted of misdemeanor interfering with an officer and paid a $100 fine. Three years later, he was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and paid a $25 fine. All of the charges took place in the Bar Harbor and Ellsworth areas.
Strout also was convicted of a number of hunting violations in Ellsworth and Aurora, according to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Those convictions were for trespassing, criminal trespassing, shooting from a motor vehicle or boat, discharging a firearm near a dwelling, hunting in a public way, reckless hunting, illegal possession of deer and littering. He was sentenced to pay fines for most of the offenses, which took place between 1986 and 2002, and was ordered to serve three days in jail and pay a $500 fine for the 1986 illegal possession of deer charge.
Strout’s release comes with conditions. He is not allowed to contact members of the victims’ families, including Jamie Merrill, the mother of Jesse Ryan; or Crystal Dehahn, the widow of Jason Dehahn. He also cannot have contact with Jake Dehahn, Jason Dehahn’s brother; or Robert and Vicki Dehahn, Dehahn’s parents.
Shannon Ryan is the 35-year-old son of Jeffrey Ryan. Contacted after the hearing, the Texas resident said he was “shocked” to hear that bail had been lowered in the case.
“It took them more than two months to arrest this guy, and he has sat in jail for two days and his bail gets lowered?” Ryan remarked. “Why would the judge even lower the bail? This is pretty crushing. I am sure this is going to crush the whole rest of my family when they hear this.”
Both Ryan and Merrill have expressed frustration that Strout remained free for more than two months after he reportedly told police he helped Ormsby conceal evidence and drove him out of state after Ormsby admitted the killings to him.
Ryan expressed that frustration again Monday afternoon.
“If this had happened in Texas, Bob Strout would have been arrested the day that he told the police what he had done,” Shannon Ryan 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.