April 19, 2018
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Pain of Boutilier’s death has not faded

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

OLD TOWN, Maine — Holly Boutilier, the teenager who was brutally killed a year ago in Bangor, was a loving daughter and sister, and those who loved her want people to know the pain of losing Holly has not faded away.

“The last words I got to say to her, thankfully, were ‘I love you,’” Holly’s mother, Kathy Ingraham, said on Sunday while sitting in her Old Town kitchen.

A Bangor transient found Holly’s body on Aug. 9, 2009, in a small shack hidden among trees along the banks of the Penobscot River between the end of Dutton Street and the Veterans’ Remembrance Bridge.

The trial of the man accused of killing the 19-year-old Old Town resident begins today.

Ingraham was home with Holly’s two sisters, Sarah and LeeAnna Boutilier, when police officers from Bangor and Old Town, accompanied by a minister, arrived at her home with the news that her middle daughter was dead.

“No parent should have to go through that,” she said with pain in her voice. “The other two girls were home, so I knew it had to be Holly.”

Just before she died, Holly had been staying in Bangor, couch surfing from friend to friend, but “she had two homes to go to,” Ingraham said, hers and Holly’s dad’s.

“She was running a little wild” and met up with the wrong people, she said. “Most teenagers go through that phase at one point in time.”

Holly’s mother said her tough love was working then, that Holly had indicated she might be interested in coming back home. She is sure her daughter didn’t think the people she was hanging out with would hurt her.

“Most people aren’t going to come across monsters like them,” especially in Bangor, Maine, Ingraham said. “Looking back, I would tell her not to talk to strangers, not to be so trusting.”

Two days after her daughter’s body was found, the Bangor Police Department Special Response Team used tear gas in a dramatic downtown raid to force Colin Koehler, now 35, out of his Columbia Street apartment. He had barricaded himself inside.

Koehler was charged with murder in Holly’s death. He is accused of stabbing Holly in the abdomen and slitting her throat on Aug. 8, 2009. He pleaded not guilty to intentional or knowing murder a year ago.

A second Bangor man also was charged in connection with Holly’s death. Justin Ptaszynski, now 27, who was originally charged with murder and hindering apprehension or prosecution, pleaded guilty in May to the hindering charge in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Ptaszynski witnessed the crime but did nothing to stop it, nor did he contact police.

He is on the witness list for Koehler’s trial.

Boutilier went to Leonard Middle School in Old Town and then moved in with her dad, Gene Boutilier, who lives in Oakfield, and attended Southern Aroostook Community High School in Dyer Brook.

“Holly was very, very much a daddy’s girl,” her mom said. “This has completely devastated her father. It’s been very, very hard on him.”

Gene Boutilier was the last family member to speak to Holly, who called him on the day she died, Ingraham said.

With three daughters, almost every picture taken has three smiling faces in it. Halloween, the first day of school, the beach memories contain all three, Ingraham said.

“It’s just so strange for her not to be there,” her mom said. “It’s hard to take pictures. It’s weird to take a picture now.”

Ingraham said she misses her daughter’s laughter and her voice. Even though Holly was an adult and lived on her own, the rule was she had to call her mother every other day. She had to call her dad on the intervening days, her mom said.

“Sometimes she’d call four, five, six times a day,” her mother said. “She’d check in or call to say she saw someone” and stuff like that.

Ingraham still searches for her daughter in crowds, and her heart still skips a beat whenever the phone rings.

“I still expect her just to come home,” she said. “You never imagine that something like this could happen.”

A wooden memory box was made to hold Holly’s belongings — a quilt made by her grandmother, a photo album that contains pictures of her ranging from birth to just before her death, her knickknacks, the hat she was wearing in the photo used for her obituary. A brass butterfly engraved with her full name, Holly Jean Boutilier, adorns the box.

Nothing can replace her daughter, and there is no way to describe the pain and grief she and her family still feel, Ingraham said.

“I just want them to know what a wonderful, beautiful human being she was,” Holly’s mom said. “We miss her so bad. They say time heals all wounds, but they’re wrong. It does not get any easier.”

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