December 15, 2013

Alleged Vassalboro killer and victim’s family tell different stories

Courtney Shea, 30, accused of killing Thomas Namer, 69, has a history of crime and quick confessions to police, while Namer had a minor criminal record of his own.

By Michael Shepherd
Staff Writer

At 5 feet, 4 inches tall, 69-year-old Thomas Namer was almost 40 years older and nearly a foot shorter than the man accused of stabbing him to death in November.

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CHARGED: Courtney Shea appeared in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta recently for a hearing on the murder charge he faces for allegedly killing Thomas Namer. Namer, 69, of Waterville, was discovered at an abandoned trailer in November next to the Vassalboro home that Shea, 30, shared with his family.

Staff file photo by Andy Molloy

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Courtney Shea

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But in an interview with police, the suspect, Courtney Shea of Vassalboro, 30, 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing 260 pounds, accused Namer of molesting him as a child.

Shea admitted to blacking out and killing Namer after the older man made sexual advances toward him in a car, also telling police that Namer was known to swap rides, alcohol, cigarettes and drugs with children for sex.

The allegations — contained in a police affidavit filed in support of the murder charge against Shea — outraged friends of Namer.

A Kennebec Journal review of police and court records shows that Namer, of Waterville, had a negligible criminal record and was never charged with or convicted of sexual abuse. Nonetheless, police in the upper Kennebec Valley noticed him over the years, investigating several suspicious incidents involving him.

A theme runs through Namer’s history with police: the presence of children.

Police suspected him of giving kids cigarettes and alcohol, and a former Skowhegan police chief remembers him as a “person of interest” for the department because he was often around young boys.

Shea’s lengthy criminal record dates back to age 13, and Namer’s death was the most serious in a string of incidents records show he has often confessed to.

Immediately after Namer’s death, his friend, Dana Oakes of Waterville, said he thought Shea might make allegations of abuse because Namer was openly gay.

Oakes had never heard of Namer’s incidents involving kids, but they don’t convince him of wrongdoing.

“Tom talked to anybody and everybody,” said Oakes, who said he met Namer at age 13.

“Myself, I’d like to believe it was Tom being Tom.”

A ‘pattern of exchange’

According to an account of the Shea interview in an affidavit by Detective Abbe Chabot, Shea said Namer molested him when he was 11 and said he knew Namer often bought alcohol, cigarettes and drugs and gave rides to “young males and perhaps young females in exchange for sexual favors.”

Shea said he and Namer had that “pattern of exchange” when Shea was young, Chabot wrote. Shea also told police he takes medication for post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from sexual abuse earlier in life at the hands of a one-time boyfriend of his mother, Hazel Rossignol.

In 1999, Namer was managing Fantasies Plus, a Skowhegan adult video store that also sold pipes and sex toys that has since closed.

Butch Asselin, Skowhegan’s police chief from 1975 to 2007, told the Morning Sentinel in February 1999 that the department had received information that minors were buying cigarettes there, calling it “no place for kids to be hanging around.”

Police got a search warrant and raided the store, seizing $5,000 worth of tobacco products, drug paraphernalia and laughing gas. Police and court documents show Namer was charged with and later convicted of selling tobacco products without a license, a misdemeanor.

Asselin, now Houlton’s chief, said in an email late last month that he remembered Namer as a person of interest for his Skowhegan department in the late 1990s.

There were two main reasons why: “The type of business he managed” — the adult video store — and “because he was a middle-aged man known to be in the frequent accompaniment of young males” largely “known to have dysfunctional family backgrounds,” Asselin wrote.

In 2002, Skowhegan police encountered Namer again, when a convenience store cashier reported selling him a 40-ounce beer. After the cashier sent a co-worker outside to follow him because they knew him to regularly sell to children, that person reported seeing him hand the beer off to a “car full” of minors.

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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SUSPICIOUS DEATH: Kennebec County deputy sheriffs and Maine state troopers investigated a report of a suspicious death Nov. 22 at an abandoned mobile home on U.S. Route 201 in Vassalboro, near the Maine Criminal Justice Academy. The body belonged to Thomas Namer, 69, of Waterville, and Courtney Shea, 30, of Vassalboro, has been charged with murder in the death.

Staff file photo by Andy Molloy


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