Police: Suspect used clock to kill victim in Lewiston murder case

AUBURN — A Lewiston man has been charged with killing a 38-year-old woman whose decomposing body was found in the basement of the man's Main Street apartment earlier this week.

Bob Ryder
submitted photo

Bob Ryder

Danita Brown
submitted photo

Danita Brown appears in this 2008 photo provided by her fiance, Mike Tibbetts.

submitted photo

Danita Brown in a photo provided by her sister.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Police have charged Bob Ryder, 20, formerly of Litchfield, with murder in a slaying at this house at 417 Main St. in Lewiston.

Danita Brown of New Gloucester died from blunt-force head trauma, according to a Maine State Police affidavit filed in Androscoggin County Superior Court on Friday.

Bob W. Ryder, 20, of Lewiston, now faces a murder charge. Ryder has been held in the Androscoggin County Jail on a charge of violating his probation since early Tuesday morning. His appearance in court to hear the new charge against him has been set for 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 19.

According to the sworn affidavit, written by Maine State Police Detective Scott Gosselin, Ryder told his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor that he hit Brown in the head with a clock and killed her, then buried her body under some wood in the corner of the basement under his first-floor apartment. That sponsor, Floyd Nadeau, told police Monday night about Ryder's confession.

Nadeau told police that Ryder told him about killing Brown about two and a half weeks earlier when Nadeau was at Ryder's apartment. Ryder identified Brown as a prostitute and said he had caught her going through his wallet before he killed her. Nadeau doubted Ryder's confession, so Ryder took Nadeau into the basement and showed him Brown's body, according to the affidavit.

Nadeau said he was reluctant to go to police with the information for fear of breaking the AA confidentiality agreement. Nadeau's AA sponsor persuaded him to report the alleged crime. Nadeau provided police with details about the location of the body.

Later that night, Lewiston police went to Ryder's apartment and found him there. After getting permission from Ryder for a search, police gained access to the basement through a trap door in a closet. A detective descended a ladder into the basement and, smelling the odor of decomposition, found Brown's body. He took pictures of the body and the basement area.

Ryder was later interviewed at the Lewiston police station on Park Street. He told Lewiston and Maine State Police detectives that he and Nadeau had met Brown when they went cruising on Pine Street for a prostitute, Gosselin's affidavit says. Ryder said he paid Brown a total of $200 over a period of several days during which she would leave to buy drugs. They eventually had sex, but he got angry when she complained about her family and personal problems.

After Brown took money from his wallet, Ryder became "enraged," the affidavit said. Ryder, who served in the U.S. Marines and said he had been discharged due to mental health issues, told police he blacked out and experienced a post-traumatic stress disorder flashback, which caused him to hit Brown in the head several times with a large wooden clock he kept beside his bed. He said he hadn't cleaned her blood off the clock.

When he realized she was dead, Ryder moved her body to the basement where it was coolest, he told police. She was naked below the waist. He buried her pants and underpants in the basement.

Ryder said Nadeau advised him to use baking soda to help remove the odor from Brown's corpse, so he used his food stamp card at a nearby 7-11 store to buy a package of it, he told police.

On Friday, after becoming aware of Ryder's explanation to police, Nadeau strenuously denied advising him to cover the odor. "I had nothing to do with it," Nadeau said, "and I've been cleared."

Although Nadeau and Ryder had referred to Brown as Bernadette, Ryder identified Danita Brown from a photograph police showed him.

Two detectives from the Lewiston Police Department and Maine State Police interviewed Nadeau shortly before 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. He gave a similar account of meeting Brown with Ryder. He said Ryder described his fatal encounter with Brown, telling Nadeau that he hit her with his wall clock after he discovered she had looked in his wallet. He said Ryder showed him Brown's body, but she was dressed in jeans and a tank top and had a white cloth on her head. Nadeau said he told Ryder to keep him out of it and that it was Ryder's problem.

Police also interviewed Ryder's brother, Melvin Ryder-Barry, who had lived in the Main Street apartment since April.

Ryder-Barry told police Bob Ryder had a woman at the apartment one night, and Ryder-Barry woke up early the next morning to the sound of a female groaning. Ryder was pacing in the next room, asking the woman, "Are you OK?"

When the two brothers talked later, Ryder explained that the woman had been a virgin. Ryder-Barry told police he found a red spot on Ryder's bedsheets the next day.

Police technicians found underpants, a reddish-brown sheet and a pair of sneakers buried in the dirt near Brown's body. Police also found blood on the mattress of Ryder's bed.

The last outgoing call on Brown's cell phone was made at 1:41 a.m. on June 16; her last text message was sent two minutes later, police said.


Maine State Police Det. Scott Gosselin affidavit on arrest of Bob W. Ryder

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Kim Berry's picture


The all three waited two weeks? to speak up?

NO mercy! NONE even an act of anger, can still call for help, possibly save the victom.

Now ya got a murder charge! sickening, makes me just cry, discusted

Kim Berry's picture


I am heart broken. WTH were they thinking? hide, ignore? Not calling 911 & admitting but asking for help? I cannot deal with this. Tearing the family up as well.

Prayers are still going out to you guys ok? Love and Healing Energy wishes for you. I know how much you loved Danita. So sorry she went through what she did. *hugs*

Ron Hubbard's picture

AA the Lewiston way

I have been a member of AA for sometime and I can not believe a sponsor would bring a new commer out looking for hookers....That is insane and not what the program is about.This so called sponsor is worried about comming forward because of breaking AA traditions???He already did that when he brought this man out looking for hookers....My prayers are with the victim and her family.No one deserves to die that way...

 's picture


I can see a insanity plea in the future,I hope not becouse he knew what he was doing nhe had the brains to hide her in the basement and go buy baking soda to reduce to smell of the body lets see what happens.

 's picture


I can see a insanity plea in the future,I hope not becouse he knew what he was doing nhe had the brains to hide her in the basement and go buy baking soda to reduce to smell of the body lets see what happens.


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