ST. FRANCIS, Maine — The local man wanted in connection with the shooting and stabbing death of his longtime girlfriend was tracked down by a bloodhound and captured by police Friday morning, ending a nearly weeklong manhunt.
Jesse Marquis, 38, was arrested shortly after 8 a.m. in the woods where searchers had been focusing their efforts since he was reportedly seen carrying a rifle fleeing the home of Amy Theriault, 31, last Saturday. Police had used cadaver dogs in the search earlier in the week. Witnesses had reported hearing a gunshot in the woods 45 minutes after Marquis fled Theriault’s home.
Marquis was found alive and sitting at the base of a tree in the woods of St. Francis, according to a press release from state police spokesman Stephen McCausland. He was arrested at gunpoint and surrendered without incident. Searchers were led to the spot by a bloodhound from the Strafford County New Hampshire Sheriff’s Office, which joined the search Friday morning.
The bloodhound, named Daisy Mae, with Deputy Keith MacKenzie, picked up a scent about 90 minutes prior to the capture. MacKenzie and two members of the Maine State Police tactical team took Marquis into custody. Also seized from Marquis was a hunting rifle, which was near him at the time of his capture. The spot where Marquis was found is near the St. Francis dump, located on Sunset Drive, off Route 161.
According to Lt. Christopher Coleman of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit, the decision had been made earlier this week to bring in the New Hampshire K-9 unit.
“I presented her with a scent article provided by the [Maine] State Police,” MacKenzie said from the incident command post Friday morning. “I could tell right off she had gotten a good scent.”
Daisy led MacKenzie and the two members of the Maine State Police tactical team to Marquis in a wooded area more than a mile from the crime scene and just outside of the planned grid-search area, Coleman said.
“We are still trying to understand where he might have gone and what he might have been doing between the time of the homicide and the time of his recovery,” Coleman said. “It is my understanding the dog tracked for at least three miles in a meandering fashion.”
News of Marquis’ capture spread swiftly through St. Francis on Friday morning. For the 400 residents of the small community located 15 miles west of Fort Kent, it was the news for which they had been waiting.
“I am happy to see it is all over,” resident Betty Jandreau said. “I don’t think I’ve washed a single dish all week. I’ve been watching police cars go up and down this road all week.”
Coleman described Marquis’ condition as “fairly well,” considering he’d spent the last six days on the run in the northern Maine woods.
Marquis could be seen with what appeared to be a white bandage wrapped around his left hand as he was led in his stocking feet from the Fort Kent Police Station Friday afternoon.
Marquis was processed at the Fort Kent Police Department and was taken to the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton. He is likely to make his first court appearance June 9.
The Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call at 5:45 a.m. Saturday about a domestic violence incident at 754 Main Street. 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 attack.
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.
Earlier this week, police described the manhunt as a “process of elimination,” as dozens of law enforcement personnel conducted an organized grid search through the thick northern Maine woods around the town.
“This is a coordinated search with different agencies,” Warden Tom Ward said Monday. “It is difficult because of the rugged and wooded terrain.”
To be thorough and cover the ground, Ward said state police troopers and wardens were walking “shoulder to shoulder” within five to six feet of each other.
The underbrush and trees are so thick in some spots, visibility is a matter of only several feet.
At the conclusion of each grid search, the geographic information was downloaded so officials could keep a running tally of the ground covered, authorities said.
There is no 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.
“I was outside washing my pickup and [Theriault] told me she was done with Jesse,” Judy Jandreau, a neighbor of Theriault’s parents, said earlier this week. “She said she was not comfortable having him around her girls and she told me, ‘Judy, my kids come first.’”
As the manhunt continued and events leading up to the shooting were discussed at diners and stores around town, several residents indicated Theriault had broken up with Marquis last week and had asked two friends to stay with her last 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.
Marquis worked for SAD 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 were being bused to Fort Kent for classes this week.
Theriault worked as a nurses assistant at Forest Hill Manor, an elderly residential care facility in Fort Kent. Hundreds of people attended her funeral Thursday in Fort Kent.
Marquis was convicted last year of assaulting the son of his former wife. He was sentenced to seven days in jail.
“I am sure the residents of St. Francis were concerned over the last week,” Coleman said. “I know this took awhile, but they can be assured this threat is over.”
Correction: A previous version indicated incorrectly he was convicted of assaulting his former wife.