Suspect in Amity triple homicide awaiting decision on alleged confession to police

Posted Aug. 25, 2011, at 1:35 p.m.
Last modified April 10, 2012, at 10:06 a.m.
Thayne Ormsby
Thayne Ormsby

HOULTON, Maine — A 21-year-old man accused of killing three people more than a year ago in Amity is awaiting a judge’s decision regarding whether statements he made to police during two separate interviews will be admitted in court.

Thayne Ormsby, an Ellsworth native who was living in Orient at the time of killings last June, is accused of stabbing to death Jeffrey Ryan, 55, Ryan’s son Jesse, 10, and Ryan family friend Jason Dehahn, 30, all of Amity. All three were found dead about 27 hours after the killings at the Ryans’ home on U.S. Route 1. The victims were stabbed to death with a combat-style knife that Ormsby reportedly always carried with him.

Ormsby was in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton on June 30 with his attorneys, James Dunleavy and Sarah LeClaire of Presque Isle, for a hearing in which Ormsby sought to suppress statements he made to police late last June and July. Ormsby claimed his Miranda rights were violated. Miranda rights are read to an individual by police to inform the person of their constitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent and to request an attorney.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Stokes, who is prosecuting the case, said late on Wednesday that Superior Court Justice E. Allen Hunter had not yet ruled on the matter. Hunter is the only Superior Court justice in The County and handles a significant caseload.

During the six-hour June 30 hearing, Maine State Police detectivestestified that any information about the homicides came from Ormsby voluntarily, and that they gave the accused ample opportunity to obtain counsel.

Ormsby pleaded not guilty last July to three counts of murder in connection with the deaths, and to an arson charge in connection with the theft of Jeffrey Ryan’s truck, which was set on fire in Weston after the killings.

Ormsby reportedly told police 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.

Police linked Ormsby to the crime scene through DNA and fingerprint evidence obtained from a beer can and cigarette butt in Ryan’s home. He also allegedly confessed to the killings to state police.

State police Detectives Dale Keegan and Adam Stoutamyer conducted two interviews with Ormsby after the killings. Keegan, who has since retired from the state police and is now working as a police officer in Fort Fairfield, testified at the hearing that during the first interview with Ormsby on June 29, 2010, he told Ormsby that he was not under arrest and did not read him Miranda rights. He said Ormsby voluntarily answered questions and submitted DNA and fingerprint samples when asked.

He added that when he and Stoutamyer interviewed him again on July 2, Orsmby again agreed to be interviewed and repeatedly was read his Miranda rights and told that he was not under arrest and was free to stop answering questions or ask for a lawyer at any time.

Keegan testified that Ormsby stuck to his original story until confronted with evidence from the crime scene, and then admitted guilt and wrote out a confession for police. Keegan testified that he read Ormsby the Miranda rights again before Ormsby wrote out the confession.

Stoutamyer testified that during a break, Ormsby told him that the “search is over” for the killer.

Ormsby’s attorney Dunleavy pointed out in court that Ormsby said he would have to “plead the Fifth” to some questions during his July 2 interview with police, and at one point said, “perhaps I do need a lawyer.” Despite that, Ormsby kept talking and answering questions for police, according to testimony, and never requested that the interview cease or that he be provided an attorney. The attorney also focused on the number of police present when Ormsby was asked to conduct interviews with the detectives, and also centered several questions around the police car and the police station where the interviews with Ormsby took place.

The accused killer remains held without bail at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton. After the June 30 suppression hearing, attorneys submitted additional written statements for the judge to consider. Stokes said he was not certain when Hunter would issue a ruling, but anticipated it would come “fairly soon.”

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