The man accused of killing two people found March 28 in the back of a blazing box truck in Bangor told police that he intentionally set the fire but intended to harm only one of the victims, according to a police affidavit.
New details about the crime that killed Michael Bridges, 43, and Desiree York, 36, two members of Bangor’s homeless community, were revealed Tuesday after the affidavit was made public following John De St. Croix’s arraignment at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
De St. Croix, 25, of Bangor told police two days after the fire at the Penobscot Plaza that he was angry with Bridges because earlier in the day Bridges had threatened to hit York, the affidavit said. He also said he had been drinking that day with both victims and others under the Penobscot Bridge.
According to the affidavit, De St. Croix told police that he saw Bridges “passed out in the back of a box truck” and the truck door was open. De St. Croix allegedly closed the door and gathered used cardboard, styrofoam, tape and plastic that he found in nearby garbage cans to feed a fire he built near the driver’s side rear tire.
The Maine Fire Marshal’s office determined that an accelerant was used to start the fire but the affidavit did not identify it.
De St. Croix told police that he spent about 30 minutes feeding the fire, the affidavit said. He then allegedly walked along the back of Penobscot Plaza and upon reaching the front of the building, he heard a female screaming from inside the truck, according to the affidavit. He did not report hearing a male voice from inside the burning truck.
“De St. Croix said he believed this to be Desiree, who he did not believe was in the truck,” the affidavit said. “De St. Croix said he went to the truck to see if he could open it and help Desiree get out. Because of the fire he could not access the back of the box truck.”
De St. Croix called 911 shortly before 10 p.m. on March 28, according to the affidavit. He told the dispatcher “that he thought two people were inside the truck.”
Bridges and York were dead by the time Bangor firefighters arrived. The Maine Medical Examiner’s Office found that both died of asphyxiation, the affidavit said.
On Tuesday, De St. Croix pleaded not guilty to one count each of intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder, depraved indifference murder, arson and two counts of felony murder.
The charges appear to reflect De St. Croix’s alleged confession that one of the victims was killed intentionally but the other’s death was unintentional. Felony murder appears to have been included as a charge as an alternative to the other murder counts.
Felony murder in Maine is defined as causing the death of another person while committing a crime such as arson, robbery, burglary or other illegal acts.
De St. Croix has been held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail since his arrest March 30.
Superior Court Justice Ann Murray ordered Tuesday that he continue to be held without bail.
She set a tentative trial date of March 25, 2019.
Defense attorney David Bate of Bangor and Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case, declined Tuesday to comment on the case.
If convicted of murder, De St. Croix faces between 25 years and life in prison. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of felony murder and/or arson.
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