Homicide victim’s sister calls for increased awareness of mental illness

4 years ago

FORT KENT, Maine — The sister of homicide victim Daren Charette is calling for increased awareness of mental illness issues after a grand jury decided not to indict a Fort Kent man in connection with her brother’s death.

Charette died at age 49 from a single gunshot wound in his basement apartment at 485 West Main St. on Nov. 25 — the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

The next day, Lt. Troy Gardner of the Maine State Police major crimes unit announced during a press conference that police were investigating Charette’s death as a homicide.

Police have not released details of the shooting or the name of the suspected shooter. Calls to Lt. Gardner and the attorney who represented the suspected shooter were not returned.

Stacy Theriault of Fort Kent, Charette’s sister, said she is disappointed that the grand jury declined to recommend charges in the case.

“For six months, I prayed for justice for my brother,” Theriault said. “I’m angry that they didn’t press charges. I’m angry for my brother that his life was taken in such an awful way, and he didn’t get justice. How in the world can he rest In peace and when this person is walking around his family. I’m sad for my mother, and Daren’s children. Most of all, my heart breaks for my brother that he had to die alone.”

Theriault said Charette struggled with schizophrenia but was not a threat to others.

“He kept to himself and tried to survive in a world that doesn’t understand mental illness,” she said. “My brother was loving and had a beautiful family. He had a head injury due to a car accident and it advanced his schizophrenia.”

Theriault said her brother “had a big heart,” and protected her when she was bullied as a child. He also enjoyed hunting, fishing and riding his bicycle.

“He was my best friend,” she said.

Carl Pelletier, manager of the Northern Door Inn in Fort Kent, hired Charette several years ago to work on the motel building.

“He worked shoveling the roof in the wintertime. He had the strength and endurance of two ordinary people. A few years before that, he did some sheetrock on seven of our rooms. We couldn’t have asked for a better result,” Pelletier said.

In recent years, Charette led a more isolated life.

“He was afraid of everybody at the end,” Theriault said. “He feared of getting hurt and he didn’t want his family close to him because he was afraid we were going to get hurt.”

Representatives from the office of the Maine Attorney General will meet with Charette’s family on Saturday.

“The Office of the Attorney General has designated victim advocates who work with surviving family members in homicide cases. One of the many purposes of the advocates is to ensure that surviving family members understand the complexities of the criminal justice system. Those conversations will continue despite the fact that the grand jury did not issue an indictment in this case,” said Marc Malon, legislative liaison for the Office of the Maine Attorney General.

Theriault said she hopes her brother’s death will bring to light the issue of mental illness, for the general public as well as for the shooter.

“I think this person should do some volunteer time and understand what my brother and so many others (with mental illness) go through in a day,” she said.

The Maine State Police is expected to issue a press release updating the case early next week.