ST. FRANCIS, Maine — A 31-year-old woman was shot and killed in St. Francis early Saturday morning, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine State Police.
On late Saturday, McCausland identified the victim as Amy Theriault, a longtime girlfriend of Jesse Marquis.
The Aroostook County Sheriff’s office received a 911 call at 5:45 a.m. about a domestic violence incident at 754 Main St., McCausland said, and witnesses in the home reportedly said they saw 38-year-old Marquis leave the residence and enter the woods behind the house with a rifle.
Maine State Police, the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection are searching for Marquis, McCausland said. He added that Marquis was last seen entering the woods on the south side of Route 161.
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.
Reporters on the scene were escorted by Aroostook County sheriff’s deputies to an impromptu press conference around 3 p.m. at the incident command center about a mile past the roadblock where Maine State Police Lt. Christopher Coleman of the major crimes division described Marquis as “armed and dangerous.”
Aroostook County sheriff’s deputies responding to the initial call found a deceased 31-year-old female in the house and two males, Coleman said.
“Our primary focus now is on finding Marquis,” Coleman said.
Residents of St. Francis reported the only road in and out of the small municipality 15 miles west of Fort Kent has been closed to traffic on both sides of the town that morning as the investigation got underway.
About two miles of Route 161 running through St. Francis remained closed to all traffic late Saturday afternoon, leaving some residents unable to leave or get to their homes.
“We recognize this is an inconvenience as it is the only road in and out of town,” said Lt. John Cote of the Maine State Police Houlton Barracks. “But at this time we feel public safety trumps any inconveniences.”
The road was reopened later Saturday afternoon.
While no official lockdown orders had been given, Coleman did say residents were staying indoors while the manhunt was underway.
Law enforcement personnel were searching the heavily wooded area around St. Francis and had searched the St. Francis Elementary School, Coleman said.
Officials at the border crossing in Fort Kent were on high alert, but Coleman said to his knowledge that no Canadian agencies were yet involved with the search.
St. Francis is on the St. John River which serves as the border with New Brunswick.
Meanwhile, residents on Saturday were shocked that such a violent crime had taken place in their community where Marquis is well-known and drives a school bus for SAD 27.
“We are all in shock right now,” Mary Landry, a resident who lives several miles east of the crime scene, said Saturday. “Things like this just don’t happen in St. Francis, [and] this is about two young people who were genuinely cared about by this community.”
Landry said she knows everyone involved in the case. She also said that Marquis is the driver of her children’s school bus, and the victim had two small children, whom law enforcement confirmed were not in the home at the time of the shooting.
“Our children felt safe with him and us parents felt our children were safe with him,” Landry said. “This just shocks me because I never thought he’d be capable of something like this.”
At the nearby Store on Sugar Shack Road, a group of residents unable to reach their homes on the other side of the road block were on the porch discussing the crime.
“It is just so sad,” resident Darren Connors said. “Here you had a mother with two little children, and she was probably all they had in the world.”
The group said they had not heard any concrete information about what had transpired at the house, but all said they had seen upward of 30 vehicles from a variety of law enforcement agencies speeding up the road all morning.
“It looked like the NASCAR police 500 going past my house this morning,” one resident said.
“As far as any of us know, this is the first crime like this in our little town,” Connors said.
But the community will be there for the victims and their family, Landry said.
“We are a strong community here and there are families on both sides of this who are hurting so much right now,” she said. “This community will be here for them 100 percent.”
If you have any information or see someone matching 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 888-568-1112.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.
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