ST. FRANCIS, Maine — Students attending school in St. Francis will be bused to Fort Kent Elementary School until the manhunt for Jesse Marquis, wanted in connection with the weekend shooting death of his longtime girlfriend, is concluded, according to district officials.
Parents of every prekindergarten through grade-five student at the St. Francis Elementary School were contacted Sunday afternoon by SAD 27 officials and told of the plans, according to Tim Doak, district superintendent.
Marquis is an SAD 27 employee who drives a school bus and works as a janitor in the small elementary school.
“We thought it was the best decision to bring all the teachers and students to the Fort Kent Elementary School until the commotion settles down,” Doak said Sunday evening. “All the families thought it was a great idea.”
Some parents, however, did say they will keep their children home for a few days, Doak said.
“This is probably the safest route,” Keith Jandreau Jr., SAD 27 board member and St. Francis resident said Sunday night. “Jesse [Marquis] may still have keys to the building and might have access there.”
In addition, the bus Marquis drove on a regular basis had been moved, Jandreau said.
Jandreau said the plan to bus the youngsters to Fort Kent was a good one in the aftermath of the weekend’s events.
The Aroostook County Sheriff’s office received a 911 call at 5:45 a.m. Saturday about a domestic violence incident at 754 Main St., Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police, said over the weekend. Witnesses in the home reportedly said they saw 38-year-old Marquis leave the residence and enter the woods behind the house with a rifle.
Inside they found the body of the home’s owner Amy Theriault, 31, with a male and female friend who had stayed with her that night.
Dozens of law enforcement personnel from multiple agencies have been searching for Marquis, who was reportedly well-liked by students and parents.
At one point on Saturday the elementary school was searched.
“A lot of the parents have had a chance to talk to their kids,” said Jandreau, whose own child went to school with one of Theriault’s daughters. “We are trying to explain as simply as possible that a trusted adult in their life has done this.”
Jandreau said his wife told their son that “Mr. Jesse won’t be coming back to school anymore.”
At the same time, he said, parents are working to comfort and assure their children they need not be afraid.
Jandreau grew up with Marquis.
“I won’t try to speculate on rumors or what happened,” Jandreau said. “It’s just so hard to think this happened in our town.”
School counselors and staff have been briefed on the situation and are ready to respond to the needs of the children on Monday and for as long as needed, Doak said.
“We will have counselors in place and Madawaska has offered to send additional counseling staff if the need is there,” he said.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.