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Houlton man accused of killing Oakfield couple appears in court; motive remains unclear

Posted Sept. 25, 2013, at 2:19 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 25, 2013, at 10:12 p.m.
Murder suspect Matthew Davis appears with attorney Jeff Pickering before Justice E. Allen Hunter in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013.
Murder suspect Matthew Davis appears with attorney Jeff Pickering before Justice E. Allen Hunter in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. Buy Photo
People believed to be members of the families involved with the Matthew Davis court case hug outside of Houlton Superior Court on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013.
People believed to be members of the families involved with the Matthew Davis court case hug outside of Houlton Superior Court on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. Buy Photo

HOULTON, Maine — As the local man accused of killing an Oakfield couple early Monday made his first court appearance Wednesday, an affidavit provided more details but still no motive.

Matthew Davis, 32, appeared in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton by videoconference from the Aroostook County Jail. Several of his family members were in the courtroom for the 11:30 a.m. hearing, but they could not see his face on the screen from where they were sitting.

Davis was charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of Michael Kitchen, 51, and Heidi Pratt, 49, both of Oakfield, at the couple’s home at 331 Oakfield-Smyrna Road. According to the affidavit written by Maine State Police Detective Elmer Farren, both victims were found dead in the bedroom of the home, which Davis allegedly set on fire.

The accused was not asked to enter a plea and was represented at the appearance by Jeff Pickering, a Houlton attorney. Davis told Justice E. Allen Hunter that he could not afford a lawyer and said he would fill out a form to request one.

Aroostook County Assistant District Attorney Kurt Kafferlin sat in for the attorney general’s office. Davis was ordered held without bail until a Harnish hearing can be held, in which a bail amount may be set or bail may be denied. That will not take place if a grand jury indicts him first.

An autopsy conducted at the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta showed Kitchen died from multiple gunshot wounds, which Farren said were inflicted by an semiautomatic rifle purchased by Davis. The detective said that Davis never reported the gun stolen, and it was found lying across Kitchen’s body in the burned remnants of the home.

An autopsy on Pratt was scheduled to take place Wednesday, and a positive identification is pending additional work by the medical examiner’s office.

According to the affidavit, neighbors of the victims heard five or six gunshots at 4:30 a.m. The two neighbors went to see what was happening and saw a truck leaving the scene with one male driver. The Oakfield Fire Department was then called to the house to extinguish a fire and discovered a white pickup truck belonging to Katahdin Forest Products aflame against the residence. One hour later, the Island Falls Fire Department was called to extinguish a fire on Richardson Road in Island Falls, where another pickup truck was found burning with a firearm inside.

Seven minutes later, at Katahdin Forest Products in Oakfield, an individual reported that a flatbed wrecker truck registered to Davis had been backed into the building, and that the truck and office had caught fire. Video surveillance also showed a different truck leaving the scene, which police allege is the same white vehicle later found burning at the Kitchen property.

Davis’ wife, Billie Jo Davis, told police that she last saw her husband between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Sunday. When she woke up at 5:30 a.m. Monday, he was gone, and she noticed that the flatbed truck was missing as well, according to the affidavit.

Since Davis’ wrecker was found at the scene, police began searching for him. Police tracked down Davis and arrested him at about 10:45 a.m. Monday in a stolen vehicle on Beaver Dam Point Road in Island Falls, according to the affidavit. State police Sgt. Chad Fuller and his tracking dog conducted a search of the road that later turned up Kitchen’s wallet.

Farren also said in the affidavit that police determined that the burning vehicle found on Richardson Road in Island Falls belonged to the garage that Kitchen owned with his family. The firearm inside belonged to Davis.

Relatives of Davis who attended the hearing would not speak to reporters afterward. It was not clear whether any family members of the victims were in the courtroom, which was filled with about 40 people, some of whom were there for other arraignments that morning.

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