PARIS – A man charged with shooting and killing three people at a New Hampshire outdoors equipment store this week blamed Maine’s prison system Thursday for not helping him and for releasing him without supervision.
Michael L. Woodbury said a “busted robbery” led to the shootings. Asked by a reporter if he killed the three victims, he answered, “Unfortunately, I did.” Woodbury, speaking to reporters as he was being led across a parking lot between 11th District Court and the Oxford County Jail, said he’d warned officials at the Maine State Prison that he would be a danger when he was released without probation in May after serving five years for robbery and theft.
“I reached out, asking for help. I reached out and told them I need medication. I reached out and told them I shouldn’t be out in society. I told numerous cops, numerous guards,” Woodbury told reporters at the cameras and tape recorders rolled.
He even singled out a therapist at the state prison in Warren.
“I wrote her a four-page manifesto about how this (expletive) was going to crack like this,” he said. “To make a long story short, they told me, ‘Maybe you need some vitamins.”‘
The 31-year-old convicted felon waived extradition Thursday and was immediately taken to New Hampshire to face three first-degree murder charges at 10:30 this morning in Northern Carroll County District Court in Conway.
Karen Huntress, assistant attorney general for New Hampshire, said first-degree murder entails a crime of premeditation or deliberation, and has a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison in New Hampshire. Although the state has the death penalty, she said the offenses committed in the shootings do not qualify for it.
Woodbury, of Windham, is accused of shooting James Walker, 34, of Denmark, the manager of the Army Barracks, a military surplus store on Route 16 in Conway, N.H., and customers William Jones, 25, of Walpole, Mass., and Gary Jones, 23, of Plymouth, Mass., on Monday morning. The Joneses were friends returning home from a camping trip in Maine. Walker and William Jones died at the scene; Gary Jones died Monday night at Maine Medical Center in Portland, police said.
Woodbury was taken into custody Tuesday morning after someone spotted him walking along the railroad tracks near Route 302 in Fryeburg and thought he matched the description of the suspect sought in the Conway shootings about eight miles away. He was arrested by Fryeburg police on charges of being a fugitive from justice and being a felon in possession of a firearm and held at the Oxford County Jail until Thursday.
When asked by reporters Thursday why he committed the crimes, he replied, “Needed money.”
Edward Woodbury, Michael’s adopted father, said previously that Michael Woodbury was mentally ill and didn’t get adequate treatment in the prison system. But he said Thursday he was not attempting to diminish Michael’s actions.
“There’s three people dead, and we’re sick to our stomachs about that,” he said. “Michael is a major criminal and belongs in jail for the rest of his life,” he added.
Michael Woodbury’s biological father, Larry Secord, agreed that there were mental health issues at play, and he offered his condolences.
“Our family is torn apart and so are three or four other families. It’s a true-life tragedy, and we’re having trouble just carrying on,” Secord said from his home in Naples, Maine. “We’re sorry for everyone that’s involved.”
Outside court Thursday, Michael Woodbury said he tried to tell officials that it was a bad idea that he was being released with no supervision. “They told me, ‘We don’t give a (expletive).’ They were just like, ‘whatever, leave,”‘ Woodbury said.
Denise Lord, Maine’s associate corrections commissioner, said state prisoners like Woodbury have access to a wide variety of mental health and psychiatric services, as well as planning services for the day they’re released.
But there was no probation in Woodbury’s case. “So our responsibility for him ended the day he left the Maine State Prison,” she said.
Attorney David Whittier of Paris, who represented Woodbury at Thursday’s hearing, said he advised Woodbury not to protest the extradition. With the document signed, the fugitive charge was dismissed.
Woodbury, dressed in a orange jumpsuit and bulletproof vest, then asked if he could plead guilty to the firearm charge so he would not have to return to Maine and “waste the taxpayers’ money.”
Assistant District Attorney Joe O’Connor said he would not be pursuing the charge because of the murder charges in New Hampshire.
“This is the least of his issues,” O’Connor later told reporters of the firearm charge.
Woodbury is also a suspect in a string of crimes from Maine to Florida that occurred following his release in May from the Maine Correctional Center in Windham in May, where he had served five years for robbery and theft.
In early June, he left Maine with Megan Reeves, 18, and her younger sister Renee Gagne, 17, of Windham, according to news reports.
Renee Gagne said she and her sister were planning to drive to Arizona when Woodbury asked if they could drop him off in Florida in exchange for helping pay for gas. Gagne said Woodbury spoke of his desire to kill.
“He said he wants to rob this big safe someplace and he wants to kill some people. He said he wants to kill all the people he hated,” Gagne told the New Hampshire Union Leader.
Michelle Roberge of Windham, the girls’ mother, said Woodbury later threatened that he or his friends would kill the girls if they tried to escape, news reports state.
Woodbury reportedly is wanted in connection with a bank robbery in Florence, S.C., on June 6. Two days later, Gagne was abandoned in Port St. Lucie, Fla., her mother said in news reports.
On June 12, Woodbury and Reeves are accused of breaking into the home of J. Mac and Beverly Mason in St. Simons Island, Ga., taking items and setting the three-story million-dollar residence on fire, burning it to the ground, news reports state.
Woodbury also has two outstanding warrants for forgery, allegedly committed in Georgia the next day, according to news reports.
On June 18, Reeves locked herself in a truck stop restroom in Franklin, Ky., writing the details of the crime spree and her contact information on the wall with eyeliner. Witnesses called the police after seeing Woodbury shouting at Reeves through the door, news reports state.
Woodbury is also wanted in connection with breaking into a house and stealing a car to flee the scene, according to reports.
Reeves was arrested on a warrant for burglary and arson in connection with the Georgia house fire. Glynn County officials in Georgia said there is no indication that she has been extradited from Kentucky yet, reports state.
On June 19, Woodbury allegedly held up the Emmy Alex Resale Shop in Chattanooga, Tenn., with a knife. A house near the scene of the incident was ransacked, and police later recovered the stolen vehicle, reports state.
“We’ll be speaking with the other states on their extradition procedures,” Huntress said.
Walker, who lived in Denmark, Maine, left a wife, a 1-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. His wife, Tessa Walker, manages an Army Barracks store in Scarborough. His funeral is scheduled for Saturday.
Steve and Shari LoPilato, owner of six Army Barracks stores in the region, issued a statement conveying sympathies to all three families. All six Army Barracks stores were to be closed Saturday for Walker’s funeral.
Staff Writer M. Dirk Langeveld and The Associated Press contributed to this article.