Amity triple homicide trial at least a year away

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 13, 2011, at 4:20 p.m.

AMITY, Maine — It could be a year or more before a man charged in the stabbing deaths of two Amity men and a 10-year-old boy goes to trial on the charges, officials with the Maine Attorney General’s Office said recently.

Thayne Ormsby, who was 20 at the time of the triple homicide, is charged with killing Jeffrey Ryan, 55, his son Jesse Ryan, 10, and family friend Jason Dehahn, 30, on June 22 in Amity. Ormsby grew up in Ellsworth and moved to Orient, a neighboring town to Amity, just a few weeks before the slayings.

Jamie Merrill, who is Jesse Ryan’s mother, said Saturday that she continues to struggle with anger, frustration and sadness since the killings. Her son would have turned 11 on Feb. 20.

All three victims were stabbed to death at the U.S. Route 1 home owned by Jeffrey Ryan. Jeffrey Ryan and Dehahn lived in Amity, which is where Jesse Ryan resided for most of his life. In the months before their deaths, however, he resided with his mother, Jamie Merrill, in Lewiston. Jeffrey Ryan had picked up Jesse in Lewiston on June 19 to take him to his Amity home for Father’s Day so they could go fishing and spend some time together.

Dehahn was a longtime friend of Jeffrey Ryan who was visiting the Ryans at their U.S. Route 1 home when the three were stabbed to death.

Ormsby was arrested and charged last July in connection with the stabbing deaths. He has pleaded not guilty to three counts of murder and one count of arson. In the weeks before the killings, he lived a short distance from the crime scene at the Orient home of Robert and Joy Strout. Robert Strout, 63, was arrested in September on a Class B charge of hindering apprehension and a Class A charge of arson in connection with the triple homicide. 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.

Police say that Strout admitted helping conceal evidence in the killings.

Strout also has pleaded not guilty. He made bail shortly after his arrest and is living at his Orient home. Ormsby remains held without bail at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton.

A status conference was scheduled in Strout’s case last month and the case continues to move through the judicial system. No trial date had been scheduled as of Friday.

Strout has a criminal history dating back to 1966 and has served time in jail on some of those offenses. He has been convicted of charges such as taking a motor vehicle without the consent of the owner, disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and a number of hunting violations, including 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.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Stokes said Friday that the case against Ormsby is in the “active discovery phase,” as the state waits for the defense team to file motions and other material related to the case. He said he has not seen a psychological evaluation that was conducted on Ormsby.

“I don’t believe that his attorneys have decided if they will pursue that type of defense,” he said. “But the evaluation would be impounded until they decide.”

According to an affidavit written by state police Detective Josh Haines, Ormsby confessed to the killings to state police Detective Dale Keegan.

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

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 the affidavit.

The court document went on to say that Ormsby told Strout 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 acquainted with Tamara Strout.

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

The arson charges lodged against both Ormsby and Strout stem from the burning of Ryan’s truck.

Strout 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. Ormsby was arrested in New Hampshire on July 2.

Stokes said that he is in contact with the families of the victims and last met with them in January. He said that they know that a trial is likely a long time away.

“It is hard because there is only one Superior Court justice in Aroostook County,” Stokes said, referring to Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter. “It takes time to get trials scheduled. I think the families understand.”

Ormsby’s attorney, James Dunleavy of Presque Isle, did not respond to a request for comment.

Jamie Merrill said she is frustrated with the slow pace of the legal proceedings and still believes more than one person was involved in the killings, despite the fact that no one else has been charged.

Merrill, who lives in Lewiston, has set up a Facebook page to memorialize her son and ex-husband.

“It is really hard,” she said. “I’ve had to visit a crisis center. I’m upset with the way that the case is going and a lot of other things. I am not happy that it is taking so long, but what can you do? Even if it goes quicker, it won’t bring anyone back.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/02/13/news/amity-murder-trial-could-be-a-year-away/ printed on April 25, 2014