AUGUSTA – The man who fatally shot two men listed in Maine’s sexual offender registry also viewed the registries in neighboring New Hampshire and Vermont before coming from Canada and committing the murders on Easter Sunday, Maine’s state police chief said Tuesday.
Briefing a legislative committee on the investigation into the April 16 slayings, Col. Craig Poulin said investigators have been studying hard drives from Stephen Marshall’s computer they brought back from North Sydney, Nova Scotia, where the 20-year-old killer lived.
“We know that before coming to Maine, he viewed the sex offender registries in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont and the national registry,” Poulin told the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
Poulin also said Marshall got information on 34 sex offenders from Maine’s online registry, then created his own list of 29 offenders, with their pictures, names and addresses, on his own computer.
Investigators determined that Marshall viewed the Maine registry April 11 and then after he arrived at his father’s home in Houlton, Maine, before the killings.
Police say he took three guns, including an AR-15 assault-style weapon, and a pickup truck from his father before driving to central Maine and killing Joseph Gray of Milo through Gray’s living room window and then William Elliott of Corinth when he answered his door.
Gray, who was 57, and 24-year-old Elliott appeared on Marshall’s computer list. A “streets and trips” program on Marshall’s laptop shows that he drove by the homes of four other convicted sex offenders in Milo, Corinth and Lagrange, Poulin said.
“It’s evident that he did go by the other four residences,” said Poulin, but police can’t determine whether he stopped at the houses. Marshall fatally shot himself when he was confronted by police on a bus in Boston after the Maine killings.
With a connection between Maine’s 2 1/2-year-old sex registry and the killings clearly drawn, the committee is gathering information about the case as it begins to consider whether Maine’s registry should be changed.
Public Safety Commissioner Michael Cantara recommended a thorough and deliberative review before the committee recommends any changes in which categories offenders should be listed or other modifications. Maine’s list is broken into two categories, based on the gravity of the offense: those who are on the list for 10 years and those listed for life.
While describing the two Maine men’s murders as “reprehensible,” Cantara said the registry has overriding importance as a public safety tool.
“I would not suggest any changes at this time,” Cantara told the committee. With the legislative session expected to end within days, there is virtually no expectation Maine will change its registry this year.
But some people who sat in the audience at the State House, including two men who are listed in the state registry, said they are unfairly targeted and that the listing should be revamped to include those who represent the greatest risks.
A man who was convicted 19 years ago of having sexual relations with two underage students in the school where he taught said he is now married with two children, a master’s degree and job as a consultant.
Since a new law made him register as of last November, his business has lost clients and his children have been ostracized at nursery school, said the man, who declined to give his name. But he is more concerned about his family’s safety by being listed.
To another man attending Tuesday’s session, appearing in the registry makes him a targeted man.
“I’ll tell you, I’ve got a baseball bat by the side of my bed,” said the man, who also did not give his name but said he served three years in prison after his conviction 15 years ago. “The government that looks to protect society just kills me.”
Kay Landry, a therapist who works with sex offenders, agreed that changes should be made to keep those who are more likely to re-offend on the list.
“Entire families are hurt by this (registry) at this time and they’re scared,” said Landry. “Public safety means public safety and they are part of the public.”