BELFAST, Maine — A New York motorcyclist’s nocturnal search for a “massage” while staying at a Belfast hotel sparked a series of events that ended when police charged two central Mainers with felony theft.
The motorcyclist was traveling with a group that had stopped the night of Wednesday, June 11, at the Fireside Inn on Route 1, according to Belfast Police Chief Mike McFadden. The man later told police he had wanted a massage, McFadden said, and searched on the website backpage.com to find someone who would provide him the requested service. He found a woman from central Maine who fit the bill and called her up, McFadden said, adding that the ad in question was listed under ‘Maine escorts’ in the adult services portion on the website, and police believe the motorcyclist sought more than just a massage.
“She arrives, and when she gets there, he decides he does not want her services, for whatever reason,” McFadden said.
The woman, Marissa Hudson, 28, had come to Belfast with a male companion, James R. Butcher, 29, both of Waterville. Butcher and the New York motorcyclist started to talk about “traveling such distances and not getting paid for it,” McFadden said.
“While they were taking care of that side of things, it appears that Marissa was collecting other things from the room,” the chief said.
Those items allegedly included a duffel bag which contained $500 cash, an iPhone, leather gear, a navigation system and other electronic devices. After Hudson and Butcher left, the New York man realized his duffel bag was missing, and he called the police to report the alleged theft — and to report the circumstances around it, McFadden said.
The man only had Hudson’s phone number, but police hatched a plan with the help of an agent with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, who called her up.
“The advertisement we found suggested there was more on the table than just a massage,” McFadden said. “She answered. She agreed to meet the officer, who posed as a potential client.”
The meeting was arranged for Belfast on Friday, June 13, but while they were en route, Hudson, Butcher and their two passengers, a 9-year-old and an uninvolved woman, got into a traffic accident in Swanville. A Belfast officer saw a car driving with a significant amount of damage and pulled it over because he believed it likely had been in an accident. He learned their names, and police decided that the vehicle wasn’t in any condition to be driven to the rendez-vous for the sting operation.
“It was not safe,” McFadden said.
So police confronted the duo with information from the New York motorcyclist, and they confessed to the theft, according to the police chief. The vehicle was towed, and Hudson agreed to bring the officers to Waterville to fetch the missing property. She returned all the items that had been reported missing, McFadden said, except the cash, which she denied was ever in the duffel bag.
The motorcyclist was sending a UPS box from New York so the police can mail his belongings back to him, the police chief said. Both Hudson and Butcher, who were not arrested, were issued criminal summonses for Class C felony theft because of the value of the goods and money they are alleged to have taken.
Because the sting operation never happened, McFadden said that no other charges are planned.
“It’s not illegal to do a massage. Obviously, we suspected there was more at hand here, but we weren’t able to confirm it,” the police chief said.