ROCKLAND, Maine — Newly unsealed court documents claim that the man who was stabbed to death last month at a couple’s home on Vinalhaven went there to confront them — but did not have a weapon during the fight that ultimately killed him.
Roger Feltis, 28, died June 14 from knife wounds at the home of Dorian and Briannah Ames, who claimed they killed the man in self-defense after a fight escalated there. The Maine attorney general’s office presented its case last month to a Knox County grand jury, which declined to indict the couple.
Details of what allegedly occurred on the night of Feltis’ death were included in a Maine State Police search warrant affidavit filed in Knox County court but were sealed during the homicide investigation.
Those details were made public this week at the request of the Courier-Gazette. A spokesperson for the Maine attorney general’s office confirmed Thursday that its investigation into the homicide has been closed.
The details could help to provide more clarity and closure to the friends and family of Feltis who have criticized investigators about a lack of transparency in the case. The police response to the high-profile killing has brought the island to a boiling point. Last week, during the annual town meeting, islanders rejected paying for services from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.
Many there have said police coverage on the island is ineffective.
The town is holding a meeting Thursday evening to discuss police coverage.
What happened that night
Jennie Candage, the girlfriend of Feltis, previously told the Bangor Daily News the Ameses had been harassing Feltis since he moved to the island from Waldoboro earlier this year. Candage said she and Feltis went to a Knox County Sheriff’s Office deputy stationed on the island just three days before his death to report the alleged harassment.
Candage told investigators she and Feltis had been drinking at an island bar on June 14, just hours before his death. She said Feltis was upset with the Ameses because he believed they were responsible for cutting his brake lines. Feltis was “screaming and yelling” for her to bring him to the Ameses’ home, the affidavit stated.
When they arrived at the Roberts Cemetery Road home around 9:30 p.m., Feltis got out of the vehicle and said to the couple, “Come out here, let’s finish this,” according to the affidavit.
Briannah Ames told the BDN she contacted an island deputy through the Facebook Messenger app shortly before the fight escalated around 9:37 p.m.
She said she didn’t have reliable cellphone service, and her 3-year-old was sleeping in the room where the landline phone was located.
“It’s easier to contact police on the island through messenger than it is to call 911, as they take forever to dispatch and sometimes takes more than an hour to get there,” she explained to the BDN.
The deputy failed to immediately respond to the messages, Briannah Ames said. Screenshots of the frantic exchange obtained by the BDN verify her claims.
Candage said Briannah Ames then came out of the house, according to the affidavit, where she and Feltis began to fight on the porch. She said Dorian Ames came out of the house with an ax, hitting Feltis once or twice.
In an interview with police, Dorian Ames denied swinging an axe or hitting Feltis with it.
Around 10 p.m. an unidentified woman called 911 saying Feltis had been hit by an ax and was bleeding badly, the affidavit states.
Briannah Ames also made several 911 calls around that same time requesting an ambulance at her home, according to the affidavit. She told the BDN that she called dispatchers at least six times that night, telling them that she “was going to die” and that she was “losing a lot of blood and needed medical attention ASAP” — but an ambulance never came.
Ultimately, Briannah Ames said she had to find a ride to the island medical center.
Sometime later, Deputy Daniel Landers ― who is the sole officer assigned to Vinalhaven ― responded to the island and determined that Feltis had died, according to the affidavit. He then requested assistance and notified the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit.
Briannah Ames, who suffered wounds on her hand during the fight, was airlifted from the island to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, where a Maine State Police detective interviewed her.
Ames told the detective the couple and their young son had been away from their Vinalhaven home for a few days and returned on June 14 to find the front door kicked in.
After putting her child to bed and stepping into the shower, Ames told the detective that she heard her husband yelling that there was someone outside in a vehicle trying to “start trouble,” but that he didn’t know who it was. She said Dorian Ames “hit the vehicle with a hatchet,” according to the affidavit.
She said she continued showering, but got out “completely naked” when she heard her husband yelling at someone to get out of the house, according to the affidavit. She went to the kitchen, where she said she saw Feltis in the house challenging her husband to a fight. Dorian Ames still had the hatchet and was yelling at Feltis to get out, she claimed.
Briannah Ames told investigators she then approached Feltis, they began to fight. During the altercation she grabbed a kitchen knife, and the struggle continued both in the kitchen and on the porch. At some point she noticed she had suffered a bad cut on her fingers.
She told the detective she didn’t know whether she managed to cut Feltis or if her husband hit him with the hatchet. The last time she saw Feltis, he was running away from the house.
Candage ― who witnessed the confrontation ― previously told the BDN that her boyfriend did not have a weapon on him.
Briannah Ames said she never saw Feltis with a weapon, according to the affidavit.
Dorian Ames told police “substantially the same version of events” as his wife, according to the affidavit.
Under Maine law, a person is justified in using deadly force against another when they believe that individual is going to use deadly force against themselves or a third person. The use of deadly force is also justified when a person believes that another person is attempting to enter or has entered their home without permission and force is necessary to prevent that person from inflicting bodily harm on the people in the home.