BROWNVILLE, Maine – Kind. Gentle. Hardworking. Polite. Neighbors and town merchants used those words Wednesday to describe the Farley family and its 46-year-old matron.
Russell Road residents expressed shock that Wendy Farley, 46, was charged Tuesday with criminal solicitation for murder after allegedly trying to hire someone to kill her husband of 30 years.
They described Farley and her husband, Luther, whom everybody calls Rusty, as good, friendly — though very private — neighbors who managed to do very well raising their 13 children. The children, they said, are like their parents — hardworking, responsible, polite and capable.
“I could never have seen this coming in a million years,” said one Russell Road resident who lives near the Farleys’ New Morning Farm. “It’s unbelievable.”
The man, who declined to give his name, described seeing Rusty throw his arm around Wendy during a visit about a year ago and express pride in his wife’s weight loss.
“She’s like a new young girlfriend,” the neighbor quoted Rusty Farley as saying.
“I really just think they’re good people,” one woman said.
Attempts to contact the Farleys were unsuccessful. A young man on their farm politely asked a Bangor Daily News reporter and other members of the news media to leave the premises Wednesday morning, saying that the family would have no comment on the charges. Another young man and woman posted “Keep Out” signs at the end of their long dirt driveway shortly thereafter.
Town police arrested Farley at her home about 3:45 p.m. Tuesday after they received a tip on Sept. 11 from a man who claimed to have been solicited by a woman to murder her husband. The man was offered cash, Police Chief Nick Clukey has said.
Police recorded a conversation between the man and Farley before arresting her, Clukey said Tuesday.
Clukey was in training Wednesday and did not return messages seeking comment.
Farley is due to appear at 1 p.m. Thursday in Piscataquis County Superior Court, court officials said.
The Farleys, their neighbors said, are farmers who grow organic vegetables and sell eggs. Town land records identify them as Luther and Wendy Farley and list their nine-room home as including seven bedrooms.
The Farleys made the news in 2002 when a fire destroyed their house and its contents, including their home-based Internet video sales business. Wendy Farley suffered burns on her arms fighting the fire and was briefly hospitalized. Neighbors conducted fundraisers to help them recover.
Neighbors said Wendy Farley home-schooled her children very successfully and made clothing for them, too. Rusty Farley often would help neighbors with their chores.
“They kind of lived like the Amish, but I don’t think they are particularly religious,” one neighbor said. “They did all their own growing.”
Farley’s arrest seemed to take her by surprise. She had been in a local motor repair shop buying oil for her husband shortly before the arrest occurred, one merchant said.