OSSIPEE, N.H. – The man charged with murdering Portland waitress Krista Dittmeyer hit her in the head with a rubber club as part of a scheme to steal drugs and money from her, authorities say.

Police said Wednesday that three men have been arrested in the death of Dittmeyer, 20, whose body was recovered from a pond at Cranmore Mountain Resort in Conway two weeks ago, four days after her car was found idling nearby with her infant daughter inside.

Police said Anthony Papile, 28, of Ossipee is charged with second-degree murder. Trevor Ferguson, 23, of Tamworth and Michael Petelis, 28, of Ossipee have each been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit robbery.

The three men had their initial appearance Wednesday in Ossipee District Court. All three were handcuffed and guarded by six police officers from different agencies.

Dittmeyer’s mother, sitting in the gallery crowded with New England media, shook uncontrollably as the officers led each suspect into the courtroom.

Judge Robert C. Varney explained their rights. In a low voice, each responded “Yes, sir” when asked if they understood.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young said the Dittmeyer family learned of the arrests and allegations just hours before the arraignments, and that they were “pretty distressed.”

In a criminal complaint and in court Wednesday, investigators and prosecutors outlined a plot to ambush Dittmeyer and steal drugs and money.

On April 22, Petelis sent Dittmeyer a text at 9:43 p.m. and told her to send him a text message when she arrived at his apartment on busy Route 16 in Ossipee. As Dittmeyer climbed the stairs to Petelis’ second-floor apartment in the partially run-down house, Papile struck her in the head three times with a rubber club, according to court documents.

Papile and Petelis then bound Dittmeyer with duct tape and put her in the trunk of her car before Papile drove the car to the ski area, the documents state. The documents make no mention of Dittmeyer’s 14-month-old daughter, who was apparently in the back seat of the Nissan Sentra at the time, and who was found unharmed the following morning.

Papile allegedly removed Dittmeyer from the trunk and disposed of her bound body in the snowmaking pond several hundred yards away, where it was discovered four days later.

The criminal complaint states that Papile caused Dittmeyer’s death by “suffocating and/or drowning.”

Young, the assistant attorney general, would not say whether Dittmeyer died during the 18-mile car ride or after being thrown in the pond.

“She was ambushed. She was struck in the head. … Her body was then submerged in what we call the snow pond,” Young said.

Papile had worked at Cranmore Mountain Resort as recently as 2007, but there was no record of Petelis or Ferguson working there, said Kathy Bennett, a resort spokeswoman.

According to court documents, Papile then gave Petelis some drugs and money taken from Dittmeyer. Young said Papile also gave Ferguson $20 for gas and a small amount of drugs for giving him a ride home from the ski area.

Young did not say what type of drugs were involved. But Kyle Acker, the father of Dittmeyer’s child, was arrested last year after police found 15 grams of cocaine and more than 2 ounces of marijuana in the South Portland apartment he shared with Dittmeyer. Acker, now serving a two-year sentence in Maine for drug trafficking, initially told police the drugs belonged to Dittmeyer before claiming them as his own.

Petelis had told friends that Acker asked him to look after Dittmeyer. “He (Petelis) even told some people he would protect her while her boyfriend was in jail,” Young said. “What he was doing … was setting her final demise.”

Besides being a danger to the community, Petelis is a danger to himself, she said. Last Friday, he suffered a drug overdose.

Young said the three arrests were the result of around-the-clock investigation by police since Dittmeyer’s car was found.

Donna Petelis said her son had been taken to the police station four times since her body was found, but he was not released after he was brought in Tuesday.

Interviewed in the back yard of the five-unit apartment house where police say the attack occurred, Donna Petelis said Papile is her niece’s husband and the couple have a young child. They lived in the same apartment building until recently, when they moved out because they couldn’t pay the rent, she said.

She said Dittmeyer had visited the house a few times with Acker, but she had not seen Dittmeyer or her car there recently. Acker and Dittmeyer were living together in nearby Conway in 2009.

“My son and Kyle was close. If she needed anything, if she needed any help …” Donna Petelis didn’t finish the thought.

“I know my son would not steal drugs off her,” she said. “She seemed like a really nice girl.”

Both her son and Papile had short tempers and would smoke marijuana to calm themselves, she said. Also, her son is on disability because he is mentally disabled, she said, though he gets angry when anyone says so.

Donna Petelis said she doesn’t remember hearing anything suspicious that night, but noted that she takes a lot of medication to help her sleep.

On Wednesday, the front of the house was encircled in crime scene tape, as was the door Dittmeyer would have entered. The New Hampshire State Police evidence van was parked in the driveway.

Papile, who faces life in prison if convicted, was ordered held without bail. Petelis and Ferguson, who face up to 15 years in prison, were each ordered held in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Probation records from the Department of Corrections indicate that Papile and Petelis both have criminal records in New Hampshire.

Papile is now on a two-year probation for receiving stolen property. He had also been on probation for criminal threatening. Petelis was on probation once for theft by unauthorized taking, and another time for burglary and receiving stolen property.

The Department of Corrections had no probation records for Dittmeyer.

– The Associated Press contributed to this story 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

[email protected] 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

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