GLENBURN – Nichole Cable’s friends and family say they are worried about the role that social media play in young people’s lives, in the wake of Cable’s death and the arrest of the 20-year-old man who is accused of murdering her.
Cable’s friend Jessica Brideau of Old Town said she and her peers are too open to accepting “friend” requests on Facebook, especially from acquaintances of their actual friends.
“Watch your Facebook,” she said. “I’m going home to just delete a bunch of people off there. I don’t know who to trust. It’s hard to trust people on those networks.”
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting Kyle Dube of Orono in Cable’s killing, confirmed that social media played a role in the 15-year-old girl’s death, but he would not elaborate.
Answers may lie in the affidavit describing what led law enforcement to Dube, but the document has been sealed by a judge until the Penobscot County grand jury considers the charge.
Dube’s attorney, Steven Smith, filed a motion to keep it sealed. The Portland Press Herald and The Associated Press have filed an objection to Justice William Anderson’s decision to do so.
Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross urged parents to be aware of their children’s use of the Internet and take precautions to guard their safety. He would not specify how the Internet relates to Cable’s death, but the “missing” posters that were circulated throughout the Bangor area after she disappeared give a possible clue.
According to her family, Cable left her home near the top of Spruce Lane in Glenburn, a private dirt road, at 9 p.m. on May 12 to meet someone with whom she had corresponded on Facebook, going by the name Bryan Butterfield.
Tyler-Ann Harris, a close friend of Cable’s, said that when Cable didn’t come home, her friends immediately went to Facebook to find that person.
“The next morning, when she wasn’t in her bed, we went to go find him on Facebook, and (the page) was already deleted by 7 the next morning,” she said.
A man named Bryan Butterfield was questioned by police, who determined that he wasn’t involved with Cable’s disappearance.
Authorities said they have talked to everyone associated with the online accounts in question and are confident that they have the killer. They say Dube killed Cable sometime between 9 p.m. and midnight on May 12, then disposed of her body in Old Town, in woods along the Stillwater River off Route 43. It was found there Monday night.
Police have not said whether Dube had anything to do with the Facebook page. He and Cable knew each other and hung out together several times, according to Harris, who said the two dated briefly and were supposed to meet on May 10, before Dube was scheduled to start a 90-day jail sentence stemming from a high-speed chase with police last year.
Many of Cable’s friends knew Dube, spent time with him and didn’t imagine he could be dangerous. They knew he had a 4-year-old daughter whom he loved and a job at the Getchell Agency, which provides services for people with disabilities.
“He seemed really nice in the beginning, always taking care of us,” said Cable’s friend Jessica Brideau. The only thing that seemed unusual about Dube, she said, was his interest in younger girls, 15- and 16-year-olds.
Cable’s death has caused her friends and family to re-examine their relationships on Facebook, the ubiquitous social networking site.
Jamie Robertson, a family friend whose daughter was one of Cable’s close friends, said parents should insist on monitoring their children’s activity on social networks, no matter what they find.
Young people need to be especially wary of “the friend of a friend,” he said.
If someone is listed as a possible friend on Facebook because of their acquaintance with someone who’s known and trusted — a real friend — the youth may be too apt to believe the “friend of a friend” is trustworthy, Robertson said.
Parents want to give their kids freedom, he said, but at the same time have to ensure they are safe.
Jayne Hitchcock, an author from York who speaks to school groups about online safety, said kids are too open and trusting online.
A few weeks before she speaks at a school, she creates an online “alter ego,” then contacts children at the school on Facebook and other sites.
“They would rarely ask who I was (and) usually, 95 to 100 percent of the students” accept her “friend” request, Hitchcock said.
Once they do that and she can monitor their posts, Hitchcock said, she can gather cellphone numbers, addresses, school schedules, details on work and other out-of-school activities, and where the youths will be at certain times of the day.
She tells them during her presentations what she has learned about them.
Hitchcock said online predators are skilled at getting kids to chat with them and trust them.
“This will hopefully be a wake-up call,” she said of Cable’s death. “When something like this occurs and it doesn’t happen in California or Australia, it hits home.”
Kim Dupuis, a bartender at Kosta’s Bar and Grill in Old Town, said Cable’s death has made many parents think about their children’s use of social media.
“My daughter is 10. She’s been at me for a Facebook account,” Dupuis said. But after Cable’s death, “She looked at me and said, ‘I won’t ask you again.’ “
Members of Cable’s family are waiting until the police affidavit is made public to share their ordeal and advice, in hopes that their experience will help other young women avoid a similar fate.
“We want to help keep some other family from going through this,” said Jason Wiley, Cable’s stepfather.
The family has created a fund that may be used to assist other families who need to create “missing” posters or take time off from work, Wiley said.
Glenburn hasn’t had a homicide in at least 40 years, said police, who scoured records going back to 1970.
Tim Munroe, a friend of Cable’s family, said her death hit hard in the town, where 500 people volunteered to look for her in a search organized by the Maine Warden Service.
Dozens of her friends attended the initial court appearance for Dube on Wednesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center in Bangor.
“Now, as a community, all we can do is pull together and help the family heal,” Munroe said.
Cable attended middle school in Glenburn, where her mother lives, said David Walker, superintendent for Regional School Unit 34. She spent most of her freshman year at Bangor High School before going to Old Town High, he said.
At Old Town, she had a “small, tight-knit” circle of friends, said Scott Gordon, the school’s principal.
Cable had what Gordon described as minor discipline problems, but she responded. Her grades were in the middle of the pack, he said, and she sang in chorus.
Her routine was to go home or to friends’ houses after school, and she rarely came back to school for sports events or other activities.
“She was a very sweet kid,” he said.
Gordon said the high school brought in counselors from other schools in the district for a day or two after Cable’s body was found. The school is still considering whether to hold other events, but doesn’t expect to make any decisions until the family decides on funeral arrangements.
Gordon said Cable’s name will be added to a school memorial garden where friends can reflect on students who have died over the last 10 to 15 years.
Ashley Pattershall, a 16-year-old sophomore at Old Town High School, said she and Cable, whom her family called “CoCo,” knew each other from the time they were little girls.
She said she will remember Cable’s strength and resilience. Cable’s biological parents split up and she moved from one to the other, and even lived with friends for a time.
“Her and I have gone through a lot together and she’s always been there for me,” Pattershall said.
“She was one of my best friends and I just can’t believe it happened,” she said, crying as she had many times since Cable’s body was discovered. “I guess it’s a lesson it can happen to anybody.”
David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: