FAIRFIELD, Maine — A man whom friends described as a disabled Afghanistan war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder was charged with murder on Wednesday in connection with the death of his wife.
Luc Tieman, 32, of Fairfield was taken into custody about 10 a.m. Wednesday by state police detectives who located him on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville, near a hotel where he had spent the night, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said.
The body of 34-year-old Valerie Tieman was found Tuesday in a wooded area in Fairfield behind the house at 628 Norridgewock Road that she shared with her husband and his parents, McCausland said in a news release issued Wednesday. She had been missing since Aug. 30. Investigators did not describe her manner of death.
Christian Rowden, a 26-year-old Fairfield man who lived with the couple for almost six months last year, was incredulous at his friend’s arrest. He described Luc Tieman as a gentle, deeply religious Christian who went to several churches, liked to help others and never displayed anger.
“He was saying that Val was one of the people who helped him settle down [after his wartime experiences]. He called her his angel. He is not the type of person who you would ever think would do this,” Christian Rowden said Wednesday. “He was one of the kindest guys I have known. He was the type of person I could call at 4 a.m. and he would help out.”
Valerie Tieman was last seen Aug. 30 at Wal-Mart in Skowhegan, McCausland said earlier this month. She was reported missing on Sept. 9 to Fairfield police by her parents, who live out of state, he said. State police joined the investigation on Sept. 13.
Luc Tieman previously told police that he had gone into Wal-Mart on Aug. 30 and that his wife was missing from the truck when he returned a short time later.
When that was reported, Christian Rowden said, “the only thing that was weird to me was that he didn’t want to talk about it.
“That was weird because he usually told me everything. He said he didn’t want to say anything bad about her in case she came back, but then four days later, he told me a weird story that didn’t make any sense,” he added. “He also said that somebody else was in the picture.”
Christian Rowden’s mother, Lyn Rowden of Fairfield, described the Tiemans as good family friends. Valerie Tieman, she said, was a hairdresser, a South Carolina native who acted in the Recycled Shakespeare Company of Fairfield, a community theater group run by the Rowden family.
Valerie Tieman also was very religious and generous, Rowden said, and she stood by her husband despite his health problems.
“She was so sweet and kind. She is the kind of person who always wanted you to feel comfortable. If you walked into her house, she would offer you a cup of green tea — a good southern girl with good southern values,” said Emily Rowden Fournier, sister and daughter to the other Rowdens who acted with Valerie Tieman in a Recycled Shakespeare production last spring.
Like her son, Lyn Rowden spoke to Luc Tieman daily since his wife’s disappearance, usually over social media, and did not detect much difference in his demeanor. However, one thing did strike her as strange.
“I couldn’t understand why he hadn’t reported [to police that] she was gone. People have fights and maybe he was taking a break is what I thought. I wasn’t jumping to conclusions,” Lyn Rowden said. “I wasn’t thinking anything bad, and to be honest, I am still not thinking anything bad.
“There has to be some reason. There has to be a reason,” she added, sounding distraught.
Police began searching late Tuesday morning in a wooded area surrounding the Fairfield house where the couple lived, according to McCausland. He would not say what led police to search the property, but he said the body was found 200 to 300 yards into the woods.
An autopsy is underway at the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta, McCausland said Wednesday.
The Rowdens said that Luc Tieman occasionally described enduring many harrowing combat experiences in Afghanistan while serving with the U.S. Army. His pain was physical and psychological, they said. Although he was a bodybuilder and liked to work out, sometimes he used a cane and moved with great difficulty.
“I know that he saw combat, lots and lots of combat. I know he saw so many of his buddies killed, like in one fell swoop, bunches of them at once,” Lyn Rowden said. “He was one of those people who really, really saw war. He was engaged in combat more than once. I don’t know how many times. A lot. I know there was killing and all that stuff involved.”
Luc Tieman once described leaving his platoon in a combat situation to fetch ammo and upon returning, finding his comrades dead from a mortar strike, Christian Rowden said.
Luc Tieman offered no resistance when he was arrested Wednesday and was taken to the Kennebec County Jail in Augusta. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Friday morning.
Lyn Rowden said she cares about Luc Tieman.
“We still have to pray for Luc. We have to pray for his soul. Some way or another, if he did this, he is in a very disturbed place. And if he didn’t, he is in a disturbed place. His family is in a disturbed place. So are we,” Rowden said. “Everybody’s a victim.”