ST. FRANCIS, MAINE — As members of multiple state law enforcement agencies searched the dense woods around St. Francis for a fifth day, there was still no sign Wednesday of the man wanted in connection with the death of his longtime girlfriend, according to the Maine State Police.
Jesse Marquis, 38, is being sought in connection with the fatal shooting and stabbing of 31-year-old Amy Theriault at her residence on Saturday, May 31.
Meanwhile, a court official said Wednesday another woman, Marquis’ former wife, sought and received a protection from abuse order against him in 2011.
According to Rebecca Langley, assistant clerk at the Caribou District Courthouse, the order was issued out of the Fort Kent District Court and expired on Sept. 9, 2013.
The Fort Kent court was closed Wednesday and no further information was available.
On Wednesday, Marquis’ former wife declined to comment on the court order or the circumstances around it.
Aroostook County Sheriff James Madore said Wednesday that Jesse Marquis had served seven days in Aroostook County Jail a year ago on an assault charge originating in Fort Kent.
Neither Madore nor officers with the Fort Kent Police Department had details on that assault charge, and all questions to the Aroostook County district attorney were referred to the Maine attorney general’s office, which did not immediately return requests for comment.
The assault charge was not listed on a criminal background report on Marquis obtained by the BDN earlier this week.
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., state police spokesman Stephen McCausland said over the weekend. Witnesses in the home 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 has ruled Theriault’s death a homicide. She died of a gunshot wound to the chest and multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck, a spokesman for the medical examiner’s office said Monday.
Marquis is described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall, 150 pounds with black hair and blue eyes. He was wearing bluejeans, a green hooded sweatshirt and Cabela’s ball cap, according to McCausland.
The public is cautioned to not approach Marquis but rather to call the police if he is sighted.
There is no official indication Theriault pursued a court order for protection against Marquis, but a friend of the family earlier this week said the young woman had expressed concern about Marquis’ behavior a week before the shooting.
“I was outside washing my pickup and [Amy Theriault] told me she was done with Jesse,” said Judy Jandreau, a neighbor of Theriault’s parents. “She said she was not comfortable having him around her girls and she told me, ‘Judy, my kids come first.’”
The next Saturday, Jandreau said, she saw Theriault’s father out on his porch not long after the shooting.
“I found out Saturday morning when I saw Amy’s father come out on his porch,” Jandreau said. “He told me, ‘The bastard killed her,’ and I still can’t get my head around it.”
As the manhunt continued and events leading up to the shooting were discussed at diners and stores around the small town 15 miles west of Fort Kent, several residents indicated Theriault had broken up with Marquis last week and she had asked two friends to stay with her Friday night.
Those friends, a man and a woman, are the apparent witnesses who reported seeing Marquis flee immediately after the shooting.
Both Marquis and Theriault were well known in St. Francis, which has a population of just over 400.
Marquis worked for SD 27 as a bus driver and janitor at the St. Francis Elementary School, which has been closed for several days in the wake of the shootings.
The 28 students are being bused to Fort Kent for classes.
“The kids all called him ‘Mr. Jesse,’” Jandreau said. “But now my grandson is freaking out and is scared to even ride his bike alone.”
At The Store on Sugar Shack Road on Wednesday, patrons at the lunch counter were trying to reconcile the man who gave treats and bubble gum to their children with someone capable of a violent crime.
“He was always so laid back,” Justin Soucy of St. John Plantation, said. “My kids rode that school bus every day [and] he just seemed like the nicest guy, I just don’t understand it.”
But until Marquis is found, Soucy said he is sleeping with a loaded gun within reach in his house, and he is not alone in taking extra precautions in a community where residents have never felt the need to lock their doors.
“A lot of of us are scared right now,” store employee Cassie Ouellette said. “The girls and I don’t want to be in here alone until they find him.”
Not everyone is convinced Marquis will be found, despite the massive manhunt.
“I don’t think they will ever find him,” Kit Jackson of St. Francis said. “If he’s been walking all this time he could be over the hills, hopped a train and is gone.”
For her part, Ouellette believes Marquis is still in the area, laying low during the day and moving around at night, perhaps taking advantage of the numerous vacant homes and hunting camps in the area.
Those spots and a wide geographic area of the north Maine woods around St. Francis are being thoroughly searched by Maine State Police, personnel from the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and the Maine Forest Service, according to Darrin Crane of the state police major crimes unit.
“Today we are still searching the local area with ground searches in high probability areas,” Crane said Wednesday morning.”We are also following up any tips.”
Those tips, he said, have been few and far between.
Given the rugged nature of the terrain and thick growth of trees and undercover, Crane said he is not surprised the search has entered a fifth day with no sign of Marquis.
“There’s a lot of places to go out there and not be seen.”
On Monday two cadaver search dogs had joined the search, presumably in response to witnesses reporting hearing a single gunshot not far from the crime scene about 45 minutes after the initial shooting.
On Wednesday Crane said those dogs had left but a warden search-and-rescue dog was on the scene.
Crane would not put a timeframe on how long the manhunt ultimately will last, saying the search is being conducted on a day-by-day basis.
If you have any information or see someone who matches the description of the suspect, call the state police in Houlton at 532-5400 or the Aroostook County Crime Stoppers at 800-638-8477.
The Aroostook Mental Health Agency is preparing a team to help first responders, friends, family and anyone else affected by the shooting deal with the aftermath. They may be reached at 888-568-1112.
Hope and Justice Project is the domestic violence resource center in Aroostook County, and its 24/7, free and confidential hotline is available to anyone who has been affected by this tragedy at 800-439-2323.
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.