Patrick Maher appears Tuesday in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn with his attorney, Henry Griffin. Maher pleaded not criminally responsible in the fatal stabbing of a Turner couple last year. Screenshot from video

AUBURN — A judge said Tuesday that he plans to find a Turner man who fatally stabbed his landlords in their home nearly a year ago not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.

In Androscoggin County Superior Court, Justice Thomas McKeon said he expects to wait until a bed is available at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta before formally committing Patrick Maher, 24, to the custody of the commissioner at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Maher entered a plea Tuesday of not criminally responsible and waived his right to trial.

Family members expressed their disappointment in the seeming lack of justice for Troy Varney, 52, and Dulsie Varney, 48, and their fears that Maher might one day return to Turner to carry out attacks on them.

Psychologist Luke Douglass, who was ordered by the court to evaluate Maher’s state of mind at the time of the crime, testified Tuesday that he concluded Maher suffers from schizophrenia, a serious mental illness that causes him to lack the capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions.

Douglass said Maher believed he was acting as a CIA operative because he was suffering from delusions. He thought he was being fed information through online forums and books left at his apartment by CIA agents. And he believed there were cameras watching him from a smoke detector in his apartment, Douglass said.


Patrick Maher Androscoggin County Jail photo

He said he spent a total of four and a half hours interviewing Maher over two sessions, one by videoconference and one in person at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn.

When Maher went off his antipsychotic medication, he experienced visual and audio hallucinations, Douglass said.

“Individuals who are in a psychotic episode will have perceptual disturbances, so they will hear voices telling them things, telling them to do things or commenting about them, or they will see things that the rest of us cannot see,” Douglass said.

“He came to believe that people in the environment, including his landlords and his parents, were not who they appeared to be, but rather, he referred to them alternately as shapeshifters or imposters,” Douglass said. “At one point, I think he referred to them as vampires, but that they were not human.”

The day before the stabbings, Maher was experiencing “intense paranoia,” Douglass said, “a feeling of impending doom that you believe something horrible is going to happen to you, that other people are out to get you and that you are being watched.”

He was seen walking on the grounds of the local middle school where officials became concerned because he was acting in “a very odd way,” Douglass said.


After returning from lunch with his father, whom he had judged not to be human, Maher “began to scour the internet for any messages left for him by the CIA and he came upon an article about a farmer who left the window open, and he wasn’t able to reconstruct why he perceived that to be momentous, but in the moment he said he realized that the CIA was reaching out to him and that he should kill his landlords,” believing they were imposters or shapeshifters, Douglass said.

After completing his mission, Maher believed he could push a button on the outside of his apartment and he would be extracted by the CIA, Douglass said.

He said he administered some tests to Maher to help with a diagnosis.

“The profile that was achieved from him was consistent with what we would normally expect to see in a patient with schizophrenia as someone who has a severe disturbance in their ability to perceive reality. They are likely to have delusional thoughts that could be grandiose or persecutory. And there were other scales that reflected chronic unhappiness and social isolation and anxiety,” Douglass said.

For his report, Douglass said he relied on, among other documents, review of evidence from the crime scene, including body camera footage as well as records from Maher’s psychological evaluation at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, where was taken after his arrest.

Douglass said he ruled out the possibility Maher was pretending to be psychotic based on all of the evidence available, including Maher’s interactions with many people leading up to the killings, during which he appeared to speak gibberish and was responding to internal stimuli and repeating phrases over and over.


In answer to a question by the judge, Douglass said his determination that a defendant be found not criminally responsible is “very rare.”

Troy and Dulsie Varney Facebook photos

Maher was indicted on two counts of intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder in April 2021.

If convicted, he would have faced from 25 years to life in prison on each charge.

Maher was accused of fatally stabbing the Varneys at their home on Knight Farm Road in Turner early in the morning on Feb 12.

He had been a tenant of the couple, living in an apartment at the Varneys’ rental property at 419 Turner Center Road, which is less than half a mile from the Varney home.

Assistant Attorney General Lisa Bogue said Maher broke into the couple’s home through a living room window.


Autopsies revealed they died from sharp-force injuries to the head, torso and extremities. Their deaths were ruled homicides.

Troy Varney’s mother, Diana Nickerson, told the judge Tuesday that she has had trouble sleeping since her son Trevor told her about the incident.

“Troy and Dulsie were murdered in the night? My mind was screaming: ‘murdered? Murdered?’ And then I heard the words ‘knives.’ Troy and Dulsie? It just couldn’t be true. I still relive those horrifying moments almost every day.”

The Varneys’ daughter, Shelby Varney, recounted waking to her mother’s screams and a gunshot from downstairs that night.

“I instantly knew Patrick had entered my house,” she said. “I ran downstairs armed because that’s what my father taught me at a young age: protect yourself at any cost.”

She saw her father on the floor with Maher in a pool of blood and her mother on the phone after calling 911. But she soon realized it was her parents who had been injured, fatally.

Shelby Varney said Maher is viewed as a victim because of his mental health issues.

She said she struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. She has installed a security system at home and now has a service dog.

“I ask that Patrick Maher be sentenced to Riverview for life,” she said. “I understand that wishes cannot always be granted, but the longer he spends in a safe and locked facility, the more at peace my family will feel. If Patrick was ever to be released, I fear that all my emotions and feelings I’ve worked so hard to resolve will come back.”

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