December 2, 2013

Vassalboro murder suspect’s story changed after he made 911 call

Courtney Shea, 30, is ordered held without bail in the slaying of Thomas Namer, 69, of Waterville.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A terse Courtney Shea called 911 early Friday morning to say a man he didn’t know lay dead near Shea’s Vassalboro home.

is escorted back to jail after his initial appearance Tuesday in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta on a charge of murdering Thomas Namer, whose body was discovered in Vassalboro on Friday.

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Hours later, he would change his tune, police said.

According to a Maine State Police account of an interview Friday, Shea told authorities the dead man, Thomas Namer, 69, of Waterville, had molested him as a child. After Shea called Namer to his home for a ride, Shea said Namer made sexual advances toward him. Shea, 30, said he blacked out and stabbed Namer to death, according to police.

He was arrested and jailed Friday on a probation hold, and he was charged with murder on Monday. At an initial appearance in Kennebec County Superior Court on Tuesday morning, he was ordered held without bail by Justice Michaela Murphy pending a hearing to be held after Thanksgiving.

Shea’s story changed throughout Friday, according to details in a transcript of the 911 call released Tuesday by Deputy Attorney General William Stokes and the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The transcript, obtained by the Kennebec Journal through a Freedom of Access Act request, blacks out Shea’s full name, identifying him only by initials. However, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland has identified Shea as the caller.

At 6:42 a.m., the transcript says, Shea called 911 asking for police and ambulance service to his house, saying, “There’s a dead guy next door to my house.”

When the dispatcher asked Shea how he knows the man is dead, he replies, “He’s dead,” adding, “I don’t want to talk to you about it, just wanted to call.” Later in the call, when the dispatcher asks Shea if he knows the dead man, Shea says no.

When a Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office sergeant went to the home at 2349 Riverside Drive, which is U.S. Route 201, Shea’s brother, Robert Varney, said Shea admitted killing a man and he had asked his brother’s help digging a hole, according to the state police affidavit, written by Detective Abbe Chabot.

In court Tuesday, Shea, who is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 260 pounds, was wearing an orange long-sleeved jail suit belted at the waist. Murphy asked Shea if he understood the murder charge against him.

“Yeah, I understand,” he responded.

Outside of court after the hearing, while walking to a car accompanied by sheriff’s deputies taking him back to jail, Shea said, “Get ... away from me,” with an expletive, when a reporter asked for comment.

It’s not yet known how Shea’s allegation of sexual abuse by Namer will affect the case. He didn’t have to enter a plea Tuesday and Namer has no known convictions for child sexual abuse.

Some friends of Namer have told the Kennebec Journal they don’t think he would touch a child inappropriately. Dana Oakes, 44, of Waterville, said Monday that he thought Shea may make allegations of sexual abuse against Namer because Namer was known to be gay, but Oakes said Namer “would never touch a child.”

Police haven’t given any information to supplement the state police affidavit, but they have said Shea and Namer knew each other for many years. On Tuesday, the state’s lead prosecutor took no position of Shea’s allegations against Namer.

“We just know what he said,” Stokes said. “We don’t know whether it’s true or not, but that’s what he alleges.”

Shea was taken from the crime scene Friday to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, just north of his house, where he told state police about the killing and the molestation, according to the affidavit. He told police he takes prescription drugs for post-traumatic stress disorder, which he said he developed after he was molested by a boyfriend of his mother when he was 5 years old.

Beth Handy of Winslow, who said she is a friend of Namer’s and is also Shea’s aunt through a previous marriage to his uncle, said she has known Shea since he was a baby, and nobody ever heard of him being molested.

Shea also told police he was an alcoholic and was previously addicted to Klonopin, seizure and panic disorder medication.

The probation violation he was held on initially stems from Sept. 7, 2009, when he threatened a clerk at The Big Apple store on Elm Street in Waterville with a tire iron, according to court records. Also, in 2008, he was convicted of arson after torching a neighbor’s pickup truck.

Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 370-7652 or at:mshepherd@centralmaine.comTwitter: @mikeshepherdme
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