AMITY, Maine — A triple homicide involving a young boy and two men, has sent a shock wave through this small Eastern Maine town, leaving devastated residents wondering what could have prompted such a horrific crime.
Maine State Police detectives believe all three were stabbed to death sometime in the early morning hours Wednesday at a mobile home on Route 1, but the bodies were not discovered until 9:30 that night by a family member of one of the victims. That person, who was not identified, called 911.
Police identified the victims Thursday afternoon as Jeffrey Ryan, 55, of Amity, his son, Jesse Ryan, 10, who both lived at the home, and Jason Dehahn, 30, of Amity, a friend of the elder Ryan who was visiting.
The names were withheld until a 2 p.m. press conference at the Maine State Police barracks in Houlton, about 15 miles north of Amity, while police tried to reach family members to notify them of the deaths.
During the press conference, State Police Lt. Gary Wright confirmed that all three were stabbed, but would not say what weapon was used or divulge any other details about the killings. He said the bodies were taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta for autopsy.
He added that a team of state police detectives and crime lab personnel were still gathering evidence and could not say if more than one person did the stabbing or what the motive might be.
Wright did say police were looking for a blue and silver 1989 Ford F-150 pickup with license plate 4155RY that was missing from the home.
“The vehicle is very important to us. We feel it plays a very important role in the case,” Wright said.
The truck has white colored wheels in the front and silver in the back, and has orange running lights on top of the cab just above the windshield.
State police have posted a photo of a similar truck on the State of Maine and Maine State Police websites.
Anyone who has seen the truck should call the Houlton barracks at 532-5400, or 911 on a cell phone.
State police have notified every police department in the state, the National Crime Information Center, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and U.S.-Canada border crossing officials in Aroostook and Washington counties.
The Amity property where the crime occurred is located about three-quarters of a mile south of Estabrook Road, about 15 miles south of Houlton and about 4 miles north of Orient, which both have border crossings into New Brunswick, Canada.
The driver of the pickup is a person of interest and should be considered dangerous, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said in a statement.
Investigators received some calls from the public about similar trucks during the day Thursday, but there were no confirmed sightings, McCausland said mid-afternoon.
The stabbing deaths, especially of a child, have hit the 200 or so residents of this tiny community hard, said Amity resident Larry Hamilton.
“You have to be pretty cold to stab a kid,” he said Thursday morning.
Hamilton, who said that he met Jeffrey Ryan about four or five years ago, said most of the locals are asking how such a horrendous crime could have happened in their town.
“People are kind of shocked,” said Hamilton, who went to the scene early Thursday. “It’s a small town and it happened right on the main drag. Nobody knows if it was a friend or a stranger.”
State police detectives, crime scene technicians and canine units were still at the home, which is a green mobile home that has a tree house, children’s toys and an above ground pool in the front yard.
A trampoline and a boy’s bicycle were also visible from Route 1, where a trooper was positioned at the edge of the driveway to keep reporters and others away from the home. A dog and a doghouse also were visible.
As soon as area residents heard the tragic news, they began to call each other, Hamilton said.
“The phone was ringing early this morning,” he said. “This is a small town and people are calling each other on the phone talking that way.”
One of the closest neighbors to the mobile home, Dale Foley, who lives in Orient about 2 miles from the crime scene, answered the door Thursday morning with a shotgun in hand.
After putting the gun down, he said that his son rode the school bus with Jesse Ryan during the school year. “I was up until 2 a.m. and never heard any noise,” said Foley. “Nothing like this ever happens here. This is tragic.”
He said he didn’t know much about the family except for their first names.
“A lot of people keep to themselves in this town,” Hamilton said. “People come up here kind of for seclusion.”
“They stole their pickup truck, so” there is hope a suspect or suspects may be found, Hamilton said.