ST. FRANCIS, Maine — Three dozen searchers from multiple state law enforcement agencies spent Tuesday combing the thick woods behind a home on Route 161 for a St. Francis man suspected of killing his longtime girlfriend.
Despite an intensive effort that began after the slaying took place Saturday, May 31, police have not located Jesse Marquis, 38, who is accused of shooting and stabbing to death 31-year-old Amy Theriault. The day’s search ended at about 4 p.m., with plans to resume early Wednesday.
“We are conducting a shoulder to shoulder grid search, and we are also using ATVs to assist us comb along the riverside and look around other areas,” Lt. Christopher Coleman of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit, said during Tuesday’s manhunt. “We also are making sure to check out the local camps, even if we might have already looked at those yesterday. We’re leaving no stones unturned here.”
Police are focusing on the wooded area in order to rule it out as a location where Marquis might be hiding or dead. Coleman said that witnesses had maintained on Sunday that they heard a single gunshot from behind Theriault’s home about 45 minutes after the initial shooting.
The terrain behind the Theriault home has been a challenge to search because of the vast amount of rugged, hilly land that is peppered with trees with foliage. Temperatures in the community Tuesday hit close to 75 degrees by mid-afternoon, and mosquitos and other insects were swarming the woods throughout the day.
“The amount of leaves on the trees has really made it difficult for us to conduct any sort of search of the area using aircraft,” said Coleman. “It has reduced the visibility that we have of the land by air.”
Coleman said state police did not receive any new information or tips from the public overnight regarding Marquis.
State police Lt. John Cote, who is based out of the Houlton barracks, said Tuesday that the Warden Service has been invaluable during the search for their knowledge of past behavior patterns of suspects who have fled into the woods to evade capture. He also lauded the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department and the town of St. Francis for their assistance. Cote noted that the Marquis family had been speaking with police but had said that they had not spoken to Marquis since prior to May 31.
The lieutenant also said that police had heard from several people that Marquis was a sportsman who knew his way around the woods. He said that the search presented a number of challenges to law enforcement, including the fact that they had to conduct the search in a heavily wooded area under the presumption that Marquis was alive, armed and dangerous.
On Monday, law enforcement agencies brought in two cadaver dogs in the manhunt for Marquis, who was last seen carrying a rifle as he fled into the woods from Theriault’s St. Francis home on Route 161.
Coleman said the dogs were not being used in the search Tuesday.
“But that does not mean they will not return in the future,” he said.
He added that law enforcement continues working closely with border authorities in Canada, and law enforcement agencies nationwide know to be on the lookout for Marquis.
The homicide investigation that has shocked the St. John Valley community began when the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call at 5:45 a.m. Saturday about a domestic violence incident at 754 Main St. Witnesses in the home, described by Coleman Tuesday as a man and a woman, reportedly said they saw Marquis leave the residence and enter the woods behind the house with a rifle.
Theriault’s two daughters were not home at the time of the shooting.
The state medical examiner ruled Theriault’s death a homicide on Monday, stating that she died of a gunshot wound to the chest and multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck.
Marquis is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall, 150 pounds with black hair and blue eyes. He was wearing blue jeans, a green hooded sweatshirt and Cabela’s ball cap, according to Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland.
In addition to the Maine State Police, personnel from the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office, United States Customs and Border Protection, Border Patrol, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Maine Forest Service are involved in a ground and air search for Marquis.
Marquis had been a bus driver for SAD 27 up until the shooting. On Sunday, district officials made the decision to bus students and teachers from the St. Francis Elementary School to Fort Kent for classes on Monday and Tuesday as a precaution.
A friend of Theriault’s family has set up a GoFundme page to assist her mother, Barb, to pay for funeral expenses and to help care for Theriault’s two surviving daughters. Visiting hours for Theriault are 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at the Daigle Funeral Home in Fort Kent. A funeral mass is set for 2 p.m. Thursday at St. Louis Catholic Church in Fort Kent.
An initial goal of $12,500 was set, and by 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, 174 donations totaling $12,105 had been pledged.
To make a donation, visit http://www.gofundme.com/9hyiyk.