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

(Continued from page 3)

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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Related Documents

Boucher parole hearing transcript

Dill said her niece has applied to college in Washington County, but now the family is advising her against going. Working in the community, even under supervision, creates the possibility that Boucher will escape and perhaps even come after other members of the Dill family.

“You never know what could happen,” Vicki Dill said. “My mother is freaking out about this. He should not be up there. He should not be out unless he’s brought out in a black bag and not breathing.”

Board praises letter; family to fight release

The 2011 letter Boucher wrote to the Dill family was cited by parole officials as evidence that he is accepting responsibility and making progress toward what could be eventual release.

“It wasn’t anything that Deborah Dill did,” Boucher said, according to a transcript of the hearing provided by the department. “That whole night wasn’t an accident. They only thing that was an accident that night was my car hitting hers. That was the only accident. I never should have been in my car in the first place.”

Boucher told the board they both pulled over after the accident. He said he took a hammer out of the car’s back seat and put it in front. Boucher said he “panicked” because he was driving without a license and under the influence.

“I didn’t know it was a woman driving at the time and I don’t think it would have mattered,” he said. “You know, I was scared, just married, and didn’t want to go to jail. Unfortunately, I took somebody’s life because of being a coward and not facing my responsibilities.”

The parole board denied Boucher parole – but for three years, not the standard five. Neale Duffett, a board member, commended Boucher for his “growth” and “insight” into his behavior the night of the murder. Duffett said the board balanced Boucher’s need against those of society in deciding to deny parole. He urged Boucher to use the three years to develop a realistic plan for life outside of prison.

“This letter that you have written, we think, is an excellent letter and we are impressed by that insight,” Duffett said. “That is the kind of growth that we would like to see continue as you prepare for your next parole review in three years.”

Only Debra Dill’s sister, Cindy DiRusso, has ever read the letter. Regardless of whether Boucher means what he says in the letter, and regardless of whether he could become a productive member of society, DiRusso is committed to keeping her sister’s murderer behind bars.

“This man did not allow a young woman to live her life,” she said. “All of his decisions were taken away the moment he made contact with her. Forty years is not enough. Life is the only answer.”

Life in the Dill household had no semblance of normalcy for three years after Debra Dill’s murder. Her mother, Janice Kelman, said they refused to let their other children out of their sight. Christmases, birthdays and other occasions that usually brought happiness were marred by a fog of grief that never lifted.

“I think of the things that could have been,” Kelman said. “Every time his name is mentioned, I remember my daughter in the morgue when I had to identify her.”

Kelman, who uses a wheelchair and suffers from a variety of physical maladies, has not attended any of Boucher’s parole hearings; but she is considering going to the May hearing, regardless of how difficult it proves. Kelman wishes Maine had the death penalty so that she would never again have to worry about Boucher being freed.

“He can eat, breathe, watch TV,” Kelman said. “All my daughter is is a pile of bones.”

Craig Crosby — 621-5642 ccrosby@centralmaine.com

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