The family of a West Gardiner woman murdered in 1973 was jubilant Monday that the man convicted of the crime was denied parole for five more years.

“It’s been a very emotional day,” Vicki Dill said.

West Gardiner resident Vicki Dill, seen in 2013 holding a photo of her sister Debra, opposed the parole of Michael Boucher on Monday. Boucher was convicted in 1991 for beating Debra Dill, 18, to death with a hammer in 1973 in Litchfield. Kennebec Journal file photo by Andy Molloy

Dill and members of her family, including two cousins, as well as an investigator in the case spent more than an hour making their statements on the loss of Debra Dill to the five-member state Parole Board at the Knox County courthouse Monday morning. With their part done, they had nothing to do but wait.

The Parole Board was scheduled to meet with Michael M. Boucher Sr. on Monday afternoon inside the Maine State Prison in the early afternoon.

By 2 p.m., their victim’s advocate from the Office of the State Attorney General notified family members of the board’s decision.

“My mom and Cindy were sitting out in the sun when my sister Laura got the call,” said Dill, Debra’s sister. “That’s a burden off our shoulders.”

The Dill family has been gearing up for Monday’s hearing since early February, when it was announced. That notification came via letter during the same weekend that Debra Dill would have celebrated her birthday.

Among those who came were cousins Walter McCarty and Richard Hatch and former state police investigator Ken MacMaster. Dill said all three were emotional when they delivered their statements.

“Richard said Debbie’s murder saddened a larger group than the immediate family,” she said. “There was sorrow for all the family.”

They also brought with them a petition drafted with the help of advocacy organization Parents of Murdered Children bearing dozens of signatures from people who supported keeping Boucher in prison and a scrapbook that Dill’s mother Janice Kelman has kept since her oldest daughter was killed.

Dill said Parole Board members reviewed the scrapbook, which contains baby photos of Debra Dill and the initial story about her murder, including a photo that showed the condition of her body and every story that’s been written since.

Debra Dill, who was 18 in 1973, was driving home to Kennebec County from the Lewiston Fair on Sept. 16 when she was killed. Her beaten and half-clothed body was discovered in the woods off Whippoorwill Road in Litchfield.

While police investigated for years, little progress was made until they received a tip about Boucher, who was serving a sentence in Connecticut for beating a woman. Boucher was indicted by a Kennebec County grand jury in 1988, and after a two-week trial, he was convicted of murder. Police say Boucher targeted Debra Dill and followed her, bumping her car before attacking her.

Because he committed the crime at a time when Maine sentencing laws allowed parole, he is one of three people sentenced and incarcerated in Maine who can seek parole. He has sought it in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2014 and has been denied each time.

Following the 2014 hearing, Boucher claimed his due process rights had been violated but was denied his bid for parole and for a new parole hearing. Boucher said he was not told he could have the proceeding recorded or have a spokesperson represent him, that a board member inappropriately asked him whether he would waive his right to future parole hearings to spare grief for Debra Dill’s family and that he’d been treated differently than others seeking parole.

“I think it’s going to be a very good night’s sleep after three long months of gearing up for this,” Dill said.

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