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A year after Dittmeyer murder still no indictments

April 05, 2012
OSSIPEE — Three local men remain in jail nearly a year after the body of Krista Dittmeyer was found dumped in a snowmaking pond in North Conway.

A recent crime in neighboring Vermont had many people in this area talking about the initial similarities between the two cases. In the Vermont case of Melissa Jenkins last month, a search for what started as a missing person was prompted after her car was found running on a frigid night with her two-year-old son, unharmed and sleeping in his car seat in the back seat. The next day, police found her body bound and dumped in the river. Two people have been charged in connection with that case.

Rewind to a year ago when a passerby at Cranmore Ski Area found Dittmeyer's car running with the door open in a snowstorm and Dittmeyer's 14-month-old daughter, unharmed and sleeping in a car seat. The discovery prompted an extensive search for the 20-year-old Maine mother and five days later police found her bound body in a snowmaking pond at the ski area on April 27, 2011. On May 11 NH Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young made the announcement that three men had been arrested in connection with the case.

Anthony Papile, 28, of Ossipee was charged with second-degree murder. Trevor Ferguson, 23, of Tamworth, and Michael Petelis, 28, of Ossipee were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit robbery. According to court documents, the men plotted to steal money and drugs from Dittmeyer. When she went to Petelis' home in Ossippe, investigators say Papile hit her in the head three times with a rubber club as she walked up the stairs to the apartment. Then, he and Petelis bound Dittmeyer in duct tape and put her body in the trunk of her car, drove to the pond and dumped it there, according to the documents. Investigators say Papile then gave Dittmeyer's drugs and money to Ferguson.

At the time, Petelis was described by prosecutors as someone who had a relationship with Dittmeyer – a "friend" who called himself Dittmeyer's "protector" while the father of her daughter was in prison on unrelated drug charges. Bail was set high and remains for Petelis and Ferguson, who were each ordered held on $250,000 cash bail, meaning that they would be let out of jail with several conditions should they be able to raise the cash. Papile is being held on no bail with no possibility of being released as long as he can legally be held on the original charges.

According to the N.H. Department of Justice Web site, after the initial arrests, defendants in felony-level cases are arraigned. "Within 24 hours of the defendant's arrest, s/he will be arraigned in the District Court. Three things will occur: (1) a plea of not guilty will be entered; (2) an attorney will be appointed for the defendant if he cannot afford one and (3) a date for the probable cause hearing will be set," according to the Web site information, which goes on to explain the next step of the probable cause hearing, "Soon after the arraignment, there may be a probable cause hearing before a judge in district court. The judge will determine whether the defendant will remain in custody until the Grand Jury considers the case. The prosecution must produce evidence to show reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed and that the defendant committed the crime. The defense has the right to cross-examine witnesses and to present evidence that probable cause does not exist. Often times the defendant will waive his right to a probable cause hearing."

All three defendants in the Dittmeyer case waived their right to a probable cause hearing. The next step in court procedure is the grand jury.

"If the judge finds 'probable cause' the case will be sent to the Grand Jury. The Grand Jury is a panel of between 12 and 23 persons who determine whether there is enough evidence to 'indict' (formally charge) the defendant. The Department of Justice (Office of the Attorney General) presents evidence to the Grand Jury. Neither the defendant nor his attorney(s) are present. If witnesses of the crime are subpoenaed to testify, the prosecutor and the grand jurors may ask questions. This proceeding is confidential and victims are not able to attend," the Web site reads.

If the defendant is indicted, he or she is served the indictment in written form and the court process ensues where bail is considered again and the trial is scheduled.

N.H. Senior Assistant Attorney Jane Young declined to comment on any specifics of the case,, stating only that the case remains open and is being actively investigated. With many wondering why nearly a year later there have been no indictments in this case, Young could only speak generally so as not to jeopardize the case. She said though the State has 90 days from when defendants waive probable cause until they are indicted, certain circumstances allow for the State to take more time and it is not unusual for cases not to be indicted within the 90 days.

Carroll County Grand Jury is scheduled to meet next again on April 13 in Ossipee.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
Brewster Academy
Brewster Academy
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