November 24, 2012

Who killed Samantha? A year later, friends and family still don't know

Police have released few details about the single mother’s slaying in Lewiston, and only recently revealed her death had long ago been ruled a homicide.

By Scott Dolan sdolan@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

LEWISTON - Their adult daughter had been missing for three days last year when Jon and Joline Turner took matters into their own hands.

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Samantha Folsom holds her kitten, Gadget, in this 2010 photo.

Family photo

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Folsom’s parents, Jon and Joline Turner, talk on Thanksgiving morning about the day last year when they found their daughter dead, and the toll it has taken. “It felt like someone had punched me,” Joline Turner said. Investigators ruled Folsom’s death a homicide early this year.

Scott Dolan/Staff Writer

Additional Photos Below

"We had a really bad feeling even before we left the house," Joline Turner said. "I knew something was wrong," she added, but nothing could prepare them for what they would find.

Samantha Folsom, a young, single mother with a drug problem, was supposed to have gone back into rehab. She was supposed to have called. And when days passed and they hadn't heard from their daughter and they'd filled her voice-mail box with messages, the Turners went to her apartment at the Place Ste. Marie complex on Oxford Street.

They asked a maintenance worker to unlock her door, and when they went inside, they found the television and the lights had been left on. Though it was a cold day in November, the windows were open and a window fan whirred.

They walked through the two-story apartment. Upstairs, they found Gadget, their daughter's cat. No one else appeared to be home.

Then they opened a closet door by the front entryway downstairs.

Samantha Folsom lay inside, curled up in a fetal position, her face turned away. The Turners' 26-year-old daughter was dead.

"It felt like someone had punched me," Joline Turner said.

That was Nov. 9, 2011.

More than a year later, police have yet to charge anyone with the slaying, nor have they named any suspects. It was only this month -- on the first anniversary of her death -- that authorities even revealed that her death had been ruled a homicide.

Folsom's death has torn her family apart and confounded those who knew her.

Now, the longer the investigation drags on, the more frustrated her family and loved ones become at the thought that her killer will never be charged. And without answers, acquaintances and neighbors at Place Ste. Marie live in fear about what happened to Samantha Folsom.

Joline Turner, who with her husband had been caring for her daughter's young son, said she had expected to hear from Folsom on the night she died and became even more concerned the next day, when there was still no communication.

"She was supposed to go back in rehab the next day. She had said, 'I'd been clean.' " Turner recalled. "She sounded really good, positive, like the old Sammy again trying to kick the habit so she could get her son back."

A PROMISING LIFE DERAILED BY DRUGS

In the year since their daughter's killing, grief has driven the Turners apart. Jon Turner still lives in the split-level ranch home where Folsom grew up in Greene, but his wife has moved to an apartment in Lewiston. They remain on good terms and still talk to each other, but they no longer take care of Folsom's son, now 4 years old, as they were doing before their daughter died. The boy now lives with other relatives on his grandmother's side.

"It was too much for her," Jon Turner said of his wife's grief. They separated after 32 years of marriage.

But on Thanksgiving morning last week, they came together to share photos and stories of their daughter's life, including photos from Folsom's funeral, and to talk about the harrowing memory of finding her body.

Born Samantha Elizabeth Turner, she grew up inseparable from her older brother, Jonathan. They did everything together, from Campfire to karate, swimming and soccer. Folsom even tagged along to her big brother's Boy Scout events, her parents said.

In middle school, she became a cheerleader. When she was at Leavitt Area High School in Turner, she cheered for the Portland Pirates hockey team and was captain of the junior varsity cheerleaders.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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The apartment complex where Samantha Folsom lived is called Place Ste. Marie, located at 64 Oxford St. in Lewiston.

Scott Dolan/Staff Writer

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Folsom’s next-door neighbor, Crystal Murphy, stands in the doorway of the apartment where Folsom was killed. She says everyone in the complex knows each other’s business.

Scott Dolan/Staff Writer

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Folsom holds her son in 2008. “That was one of the best times of our life,” Jesse Folsom said.

Family photo

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Folsom photographed this image of her husband, Jesse Folsom, herself and their son at a time when they were all living together in California.

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Samantha Folsom, center, appears with her parents, Jon and Joline Turner, in this 2002 photo.

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