HOULTON, Maine — The primary Maine State Police detective investigating the alleged murder of Starlette Vining testified Thursday that in his exhaustive search for her, he found no evidence she is alive.
Detective Adam Stoutamyer also said that when he interviewed accused killer George Jaime Sr., 76, in 2012, the Presque Isle man described Vining as a drug addict who he cared for “a little bit,” but that she didn’t technically live with him. Jaime felt she was someone who liked to live “off the grid” and remain missing, the detective said.
Jaime is charged with intentional or knowing murder in the death of Vining, who was 38 years old when she was last seen alive in October 1998. Though Vining’s body has not been found, Jaime was arrested and charged July 12, 2012.
Stoutamyer appeared on the stand in Aroostook County Superior Court in Houlton before Justice Robert Murray during the third day of the murder trial.
Assistant Attorney Andrew Benson said in his opening statements on Tuesday that Jaime killed Vining, his live-in girlfriend, in a drunken rage in October 1998. Benson rested the state’s case late Thursday afternoon. Jeffrey Silverstein, the attorney representing Jaime, has countered that there is no evidence that Vining is dead. Silverstein also has challenged several witnesses’ recollections, as well as their past histories with drug and alcohol abuse.
During the first two days of the trial, Ted Jaime, the defendant’s son, and James Campbell, a family friend, testified that the 76-year-old told them he stabbed Vining to death before dismembering and incinerating her body. Jaime testified he saw Vining’s corpse in his father’s apartment, and both he and Campbell testified that they helped clean up the murder scene in October 1998.
The younger Jaime told Benson that the body was burned to ashes in a commercial boiler with a large firebox located in the basement of the pawn shop and apartment building that his father owned on Main Street in Presque Isle. He also testified that a short time after the murder, George Jaime dumped a large can of ashes into a stream in Westfield and said they were “Star’s ashes.”
Parise Voisine, Ted Jaime’s ex-wife, also testified Wednesday about how her former husband had told her about cleaning up the murder scene and about the dismemberment.
Stoutamyer testified Thursday that state police removed ashes from the boiler, which he termed a “blast furnace,” and sent them to the state medical examiner’s office for analysis. No evidence of human remains were found, which Benson said could be attributed to the 15 year time lapse and to the firebox being cleaned over the years.
Stoutamyer said that he began an extensive search for Vining in the United States and Canada after she was reported missing by her family in 2006. Police have previously said that Vining was not reported missing earlier because the family was not close, and she tended to relocate often.
Stoutamyer testified that he checked license, passport, social security and health and human services records and turned up no evidence that she was still alive.
The detective told Benson that after police received a tip in 2006 that her body might be buried in an area in rural Chapman, police conducted a search in 2007 and 2008 with cadaver dogs and found nothing.
He also said that during his initial interview with George Jaime, the pawn shop owner told him that Vining stayed with him “for three or four days at a time” but didn’t live with him. Jaime said that he was “trying to get Vining off dope,” at one point dragging her out of another man’s apartment when she was there using drugs.
When Stoutamyer met with Jaime for a third interview on July 12 last year and police were executing a search warrant at the pawn shop, the detective told him that his son Ted Jaime had confessed about his role in what happened that night. The detective told Benson that George Jaime replied, “good for him.”
State police Trooper Jillian Monahan testified Thursday about taking Jaime to a hospital to be medically cleared for tendonitis in his wrist before he could be taken to the Aroostook County Jail. She said that when a doctor asked him how long he would be in jail, Jaime replied, “for the rest of my life.”
Jaime’s ex-wife, Ethel Jaime, also testified Thursday morning, saying that Ted Jaime had told her several times about George Jaime murdering a woman and about Ted Jaime’s participation in cleaning up the crime scene, although he never mentioned Vining’s name. She said that the details in her son’s story always “remained consistent.”
Ethel Jamie also described a family meeting that took place in Mars Hill in the summer of 2012, prior to her ex-husband’s arrest. She testified that she joined her former husband and sons — Ted, Gregg, and George P. Jaime — outside, and that the elder Jaime told his children that they needed to “keep their mouths shut” during the police investigation. She testified that George Jaime Sr. told them “nothing would come of it,” and if it did and a family member was arrested, “he would have their backs, he would bail them out and get them a lawyer.”
Defense attorney Silverstein got Ethel Jaime to admit that Ted Jaime and his father had friction in their relationship. She said that he asked his father for money often, and that the elder Jaime gave it out regularly. She also acknowledged that her son “had an interest” in acquiring the pawn shop and apartment complex after his father’s death, but he learned a few years ago that he wasn’t getting it.
The defense began presenting its case early Thursday evening with Silverstein calling as his first witness, Gregg Jaime of Mapleton, who has been managing the pawn shop since his father’s arrest. He testified about receiving an irate phone call about a year ago from Ted Jaime, who was furious that his brother was running the business.
“He told me ‘you’re next,’ and ‘you’re going down,’” Gregg Jaime told Silverstein
No one other than George Jaime Sr. has been charged with a crime in connection with the case.