Man who shot Mainers was arrested as teen

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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) – The mysterious Cape Bretoner who shot two sex offenders in Maine, leaving his family stunned that he could be so violent, was arrested when he was 14 for threatening another youth with an assault rifle.

The arrest record from Idaho is the first indication that Stephen Marshall, a 20-year-old dishwasher who friends have described as gentle and passive, might have had any aggressive tendencies in his past.

Paul McNish, the patrol lieutenant for Nez Perce County, told The Canadian Press on Wednesday that Marshall was arrested in tiny Culdesac, Idaho, in the spring of 2001. The police record shows that Marshall threatened another youth who was fighting with his friend on the front lawn of his father’s home.

“He went into (his father’s) house and retrieved an AR-15, 223 semi-automatic rifle, returned to the front door and told the one subject to let his friend go,” said McNish.

Police and relatives have repeatedly said they’re baffled that Marshall would research the addresses of 34 people on an Internet sex offender list in Maine, locate two of them, and then travel over 600 miles to his father’s house in Houlton before going on a killing spree.

He used handguns belonging to his father, Ralph Marshall, to gun down Joseph Gray, 57, of Milo, and William Elliott, 24, of Corinth, last weekend. Marshall later used one of the guns to kill himself on a bus in Boston when he was approached by police.

It all seemed a stunning contrast from a youth working as a dishwasher in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, where co-workers knew him as a gentle soul who never harmed others. However, little by little, the image of some of the youth’s difficulties in his teenage years in the United States are emerging.

Marshall was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and his parents moved to rural Cape Breton Island when he was small. He lived in Sydney, then in nearby Louisbourg. His parents divorced when he was 8 years old, and his father left for the United States.

When Stephen Marshall was 13, his father visited him in Cape Breton, and the boy moved to the United States shortly afterwards.

Terry Crawford, a teacher at Marshall’s former school in Culdesac, said he remembers a youth who seemed to be “emotional, a little angry.”

“He wasn’t in bad trouble, but he was rebellious a little bit. He was sometimes a classroom discipline problem.”

However, he didn’t recall Marshall as being threatening at school. The incident on the front lawn appears to have been the only one that people in the area can remember.

Margaret Miles, Marshall’s mother, cautions against drawing conclusions from one incident in the past.

“It’s so simplistic to look for an answer and just look at one thing. If we have a chance to look at this and we ever learn the truth, it could be a series of things, it could be a combination of things, it could be things we’re not even aware of,” she said.

Law enforcement officials in Maine still haven’t been able to make any personal link between Marshall and the two dead men.

Still, the case is provoking a public debate over public sex offender registries, as well as prompting police to attempt to uncover just what motivated the killings.

Sgt. Stephen Pickering, the supervisor of the homicide investigation, said police want to know more about why Marshall committed the crime.

“The families of the murder victims want to know why, and it also impacts how we maintain our sex offender registry, on a political level,” said the investigator. “The attorney general’s office wants to know why this happened.”

He hopes to have some further clues once crime labs examine Marshall’s laptop computer – which may contain e-mails, notes or other records of Marshall’s interest in the Internet sex offenders registry.

Pickering said he doesn’t expect the state to alter its registry system, which is currently open to the public. “I see a benefit in it in that it allows people to adjust their lives. It’s a benefit to people with children.”

Meanwhile, two state detectives are being sent to Cape Breton to search Marshall’s apartment and interview friends and family.

AP-ES-04-19-06 1957EDT

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