December 8, 2013

Family of slain West Gardiner woman worries killer will be released

When Michael M. Boucher Sr. was convicted in 1991 of murdering 18-year-old Debra Dill, her family thought he would be in a maximum security prison for the rest of his life. But state officials will consider his release in May.

By Craig Crosby ccrosby@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Forty years ago, Michael M. Boucher Sr. attacked 18-year-old Debra Dill in the woods off Whippoorwill Road in Litchfield. He strangled her with his hands and beat her so viciously with a hammer that one of Dill’s teeth lodged in her esophagus. Her bludgeoned body was found face up, about 20 feet from the blue Ford Falcon she had used to try to outrun her attacker.

Caught: Michael Boucher, right, is escorted by Kennebec County Sheriff’s Deputy Eric Testerman in this file photo from July 9, 1991.

Kennebec Journal file photo

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LIFE SENTENCE: West Gardiner resident Vicki Dill is outraged that the man who is serving a life sentence for murdering her sister, Debra, has been transferred to a minimum-security facility and is performing supervised work projects in the community. Michael Boucher was convicted in 1991 for beating Debra Dill, 18, to death in 1973 with a hammer in Litchfield.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

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Boucher parole hearing transcript

Boucher eluded investigators for nearly 20 years, during which time he racked up a lengthy criminal record that included at least two convictions of aggravated assault as well as public indecency, theft and harassment. When police finally connected Boucher to Dill’s murder, they found a box he kept with some of Dill’s belongings. Boucher was convicted of Dill’s murder in 1991 and sentenced to life in prison.

If Debra Dill’s family has found any comfort in the chronic grief over the past 40 years, it has been the knowledge that Boucher will spend the rest of his life in prison; but that assurance now seems very much in doubt. These days, the 63-year-old Boucher spends his days at the minimum security Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport, where he is assigned to a Community Restitution Crew that carries out supervised work details throughout Washington County. Boucher has another parole hearing scheduled for May when, family members fear, he will be freed.

“They’re getting ready to release him,” said Vicki Dill, who was 10 years old when Boucher murdered her sister. “That’s what it sounds like. Who’s going to shoulder the burden, should he decide to strike again? It shouldn’t take another death to make this stick.”

Yet parole officials say Boucher has made progress in accepting responsibility for what he did, as evidenced by a letter he wrote to the Dill family in May 2011 in which he apologized for the murder and asked for forgiveness.

“I was a selfish coward and did not care about anyone or anything,” Boucher wrote. “I blamed all my problems on my drug and alcohol use, when in fact that was not the problem. I was the problem.”

Boucher, who read the letter for the parole board, said he never before had accepted responsibility for his actions. He had always blamed his substance abuse.

“He was a predator”

Lyndon Abbott had been with the state police for nine years, and a detective for three, as he looked over the West Gardiner teen’s lifeless body that day in September 1973. Abbott, now retired in Florida, recalled the investigation during a recent phone interview. He said Dill had been to the Lewiston Fair the night of Sept. 16. Detectives thought Boucher, who was 22 at the time, picked Dill at random and followed her as she began her drive home.

“We feel he followed her out of Lewiston,” Abbott said. “We knew her vehicle had been bumped. There was a light abrasion on the bumper. Later we found out he was a bump-and-run guy. He would look for a lone female and follow them. He would bump them. When they got out to assess the damages, he grabbed them.”

Abbott said Boucher had tried the technique on another woman in Lewiston, but she got away. The woman was unable to identify Boucher positively.

“The Lewiston police knew it was him and his car,” Abbott said. “We knew he was that kind of a guy, but we had nothing on him. We assumed he was a suspect, but it was just an assumption.”

Detectives were unable to determine whether Boucher continued to chase Dill or he stayed back as the desperate woman fled. She crashed her car on a camp road. That’s where Boucher caught her, Abbott said.

(Continued on page 2)

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