Security tight for accused killer
By Elna Seabrooks
HOULTON — Thayne Ormsby, the accused killer of a 10-year-old boy and two adult men, made his first court appearance in Maine yesterday afternoon before Judge E. Allen Hunter via video conference and said he understood what was taking place.
Jeff Pickering, lawyer for the day, represented Ormsby and described him as quiet, calm and polite. Pickering assisted Ormsby in completing a motion for appointment of counsel and discussed bail with the accused. Because of the murder charges against Ormsby, a Harnish hearing will be scheduled soon to determine if he has a right to bail. Pickering told the Pioneer Times that the state will argue he is not entitled to bail.
When Ormsby was returned to Maine from New Hampshire early Monday afternoon, Ormsby’s booking photo no longer offered up the fresh faced almost preppy looking young man. He appeared older.
He apparently had arrived without any fanfare, motorcade or obvious high-profile police presence, in an unmarked dark sedan, that pulled up to the sally port of the Aroostook County Jail. Less than an hour later, the same sedan left the facility. Army-style camouflage-colored fatigues partially blocked a rear window.
Prior to his arrival, local, county and state officials would not confirm when Ormsby would be coming into Houlton or any detail about his transfer. Briefly, at one point, calls to the jail were not answered by staff or other personnel; pre-recorded announcements offered an option to leave messages.
Then, the slightest flurry of activity after 1 p.m., indicated that the expected transfer probably had occurred. As the dark sedan pulled out of the driveway onto Court St., a deputy repositioned an Aroostook County sheriff’s vehicle on the access to the sally port.
Just after 1:30 p.m., Sheriff James Madore confirmed that Ormsby had been in custody for about half an hour. “We do have Ormsby. He is in his own cell — by himself,” said Madore. The sheriff added that Ormsby had offered no resistance and was cooperating with jail personnel. Madore added that Ormsby, who had been arrested on a fugitive from justice charge, “was being assessed as to how he will handle jail life, partly for security reasons.”
The Aroostook County grand jury handed up 72 indictments against 67 different persons on July 9 following its two-day session, according to District Attorney Neale Adams. Ormsby was one of the 67. He is charged with three counts of murder in the stabbing deaths of Jeffrey Ryan, 55, his son Jesse Ryan, 10, and Jason Dehahn, 33. The victims were last known to be alive on June 22.
Deputy Attorney General Bill Stokes said, if convicted, Ormsby faces a minimum of 25 years to life on each of the three counts of murder and 10 years on the arson charge.
According to a July 2 Maine State Police affidavit, Ormsby confessed to investigators that he stabbed Ryan because he thought he was a drug dealer. However, he gave no motive for killing the child or Dehahn. So far, there has been no evidence of drug dealing on Ryan’s part, only rumor and innuendo.
Police went to Ryan’s residence on U.S. Route 1 late Wednesday June 23, according to the affidavit, after a call from Dehahn’s father who found the deceased child. Police also found the two adults on Ryan’s property. Dehahn’s father, Robert, told the Pioneer Times he was concerned that his son had not returned home and went to look for him at Ryan’s trailer.
The arson charge is in connection with destruction of a 1989 Ford truck taken from Ryan’s property and later located in Weston. Ormsby claimed in the police affidavit that Robert Strout of Orient assisted him in disposing of evidence including a knife he claimed he used to kill the three victims. On Saturday, July 3, a state police dive team recovered a weapon in a nearby bog not far from the Orient town line that may have been used in the murders. It was sent to the state police crime lab for processing.
Also in the affidavit, Ormsby claimed he planned to live in Weston with Ryan’s teenage daughter, Mariah, who is Strout’s granddaughter. Ormsby had been living briefly at the Strout household in Orient on U.S. Route 1 just a few miles down from Ryan’s trailer. At the time of his arrest, Ormsby was staying at the residence of Robert Strout II in Dover, N.H. at an address he had given voluntarily to investigators shortly after the killings.
Reportedly, the Strouts claimed in an interview with the Associated Press that the killings were the result of a drug deal gone bad and Ormsby wanted to collect $10,000 for his father. Yesterday morning, when Joy Strout answered the phone, she would only say to the Pioneer Times: “Please. No comment.” Stokes would not confirm or deny that the Strouts were considered as suspects or as persons of interest.
Ormsby is scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday, July 21 at 1 p.m. in Superior Court in Houlton before Judge Hunter.