ST. FRANCIS, Maine — The man wanted in connection with the death of his longtime girlfriend has a history of violence.
Jesse Marquis, who has been on the run since allegedly shooting and stabbing 31-year-old Amy Theriault at her St. Francis residence last Saturday, was convicted June 21, 2013, on one count of assault in Fort Kent District Court, according to court records.
Marquis had initially been charged with two counts of domestic violence, but court records showed one count was dismissed and the second count amended to the assault charge.
The charges stemmed from an Aug. 11, 2011, incident in which Marquis attacked his former wife and her adult son after a night of drinking at a Fort Kent area bar.
According to a written statement by his former wife, the two argued that night; she told him she wanted a divorce as she drove them home.
On the drive, Marquis fought for control of the car and, once it was stopped, grabbed his then wife and pushed her head into the car’s window and threatened to take their 7-year-old son away from her.
The woman was able to escape and make her way home where she found Marquis already there attempting to leave with her son as her other son, who was 22 at the time, fought with Marquis to prevent him from leaving.
The 7-year-old and the older son were injured by Marquis in the fight before his former wife was able to restrain him using a chokehold, according to court records.
Marquis was arrested and charged that night by Fort Kent police.
In September of 2011, she filed for and received a court-ordered protection of abuse against Marquis which expired in September of 2013.
He was found guilty in a nonjury trial of assaulting the adult son and subsequently served seven days in the Aroostook County Jail. He was ordered to pay $300 in fines and to seek counseling.
The two divorced in March of 2012 after 11 years of marriage. Primary custody of their son was granted to his former wife.
At the time of Saturday’s attack, Marquis was employed by SAD 27 as a bus driver and janitor at the St. Francis Elementary school where he was known as “Mr. Jesse” by the 28 students in pre-kindergarten through grade five.
On Thursday, SAD 27 Superintendent Tim Doak confirmed he knew of the 2011 domestic assault incident but stressed Marquis passed several Maine Department of Education criminal background checks dating back to 2001. The most recent was in 2013, which cleared Marquis for employment through 2018, Doak said.
“We do background checks on all employees and even some volunteers who work with children,” Doak said. “When [the Department of Education] runs a background check, they determine if there is a danger or a threat.”
Department of Education spokeswoman Samantha Warren said Marquis was recertified Oct. 23, 2013, but she could not comment on the specifics of his case. According to state statutes, an education worker’s certification can be revoked for conviction of crimes against children and immoral conduct. Warren said each district can adopt stricter standards for hiring workers.
If a citizen feels a district employee is a threat and alerts school officials, that employee is investigated in accordance with district policies, Doak said.
“We would make sure it is safe for that individual to be around children,” Doak said. “We don’t turn a blind eye.”
District officials, who declined to comment on specifics citing employee confidentiality, were also aware of the 2011-13 protection order and of the assault incident which prompted it, Doak said.
“We were aware of the order of protection and worked it through with Jesse [Marquis],” Doak said. “He did take a leave from work to seek some help.”
Beyond that, Doak said, there were never any red flags raised in connection with Marquis as a district employee.
“He was an excellent employee,” Doak said. “The kids loved him, the parents loved him and he loved them.”
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 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.
There is no official indication Theriault pursued a court order for protection against Marquis, but a friend of the family said earlier this week the young woman expressed concern about Marquis’ behavior a week before the attack.
Funeral services for Theriault are scheduled for Thursday afternoon in Fort Kent.
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 McCausland.
The public is cautioned to not approach Marquis but rather to call the police if he is sighted.
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.
Correction: A previous version of this story indicating Jesse Marquis was convicted of domestic assault in 2013 is incorrect. Marquis faced two charges of domestic assault, but one count was dismissed and the second amended to an assault charge for which he was convicted and served seven days in Aroostook County Jail.