A rise in crime and bizarre events brings Maine’s safety into question


Kati Gardella, Crier Staff

According to statistics from the FBI, Maine is the state with the lowest violent crime rate in America, with a rate of approximately one hundred and twenty-four violent crimes for every one hundred thousand inhabitants.

This could be largely in part to the fact that there are more trees than people, and that Maine has a higher concentration of the elderly compared to other states.

As of lately, however, nightmarish cases are plaguing Vacationland.

On Sunday, Feb. 25, police responded to a 911 call from the Stockton Springs home of Sharon and Julio Carrillo. They told police that Marissa Kennedy, Sharon’s daughter and Julio’s stepdaughter, had passed away after injuring herself while playing alone in their basement.

Police quickly determined that the alleged cause of Marissa’s death was staged, and that it was not a fall in the basement boiler room that had killed her. The next day, her cause of death was labelled as a suicide. Police brought in the Carrillos for questioning and discovered that they had abused ten-year-old Marissa to death.

The abuse was relentless and daily. They psychologically and physically abused Marissa, as they would lock her in a dark closet for lengthy periods. Marissa would be forced to kneel on a tile floor while she was whipped with a leather belt or manually hit. Carrillo had once hit Marissa so hard with a metal mop handle that it broke against her ribs.

The last Thursday and Friday before her death, Marissa had experienced so much abuse that she could barely walk, and was unable to speak without slurring her words.

Her death has caused great anger in the community over a lack of successful intervention.

When the Carrillos first moved to Maine, and lived in a small apartment in Bangor, their neighbors complained frequently about the noise produced by various fights and domestic disputes.

Marissa was a very brave and sweet girl, and despite the horrible abuse, often wore a smile while in public. Peers and teachers were still able to detect that something was wrong, as she would sometimes be absent for over half of the school week.

Teachers often let her take naps in class because she was visibly exhausted. She would also show up to school with prominent bruises.

The Carrillos were eventually evicted from their Bangor apartment due to numerous complaints about the noise level, and officials at the Bangor School Department voiced concerns to DHS, as did one of their family’s housekeepers.

People who were concerned intervened, and the lack of action was on the part of those in authority, such as DHS and the local police. This is reminiscent of the FBI’s failure to properly respond to concerns about Nikolas Cruz.

The Carrillos are both facing one count of depraved indifference murder and are currently in prison. They are both considered security threats, are they are currently popular targets for abuse.

To make the case even more twisted, Sharon Carrillo is seven months pregnant.

I learned of this horrible case during spring break. My family also drove past the Carrillo’s Bangor apartment numerous times. Stockton Springs, where Marissa died, is less than an hour away from my home.

It’s terrifying to think of what can happen in your community. To make matters worse, another homicide occurred on Wed., March 28, which is the same day that I was headed back to Maine for Easter break.

In Bangor, Maine, which is right next to my hometown, the bodies of Michael Bridges, 43 and Desiree York, 36 were found in a burning box truck under the Joshua Chamberlain bridge. Bangor firefighters had arrived on the scene solely because of the fire, but then discovered two bodies.

It has been established that the case is a homicide, but it is unclear what specifically caused the deaths.

Possible CODs are smoke inhalation or even one that is unrelated to the fire. Since the case is so recent, minimal information has been released to the public.

It is known that Bridges and York were homeless, and the area around the truck is a typical area for the city’s homeless population to gather.

John De St. Croix, 25, was arrested and charged with two counts of murder two days later. The case is still under investigation, and it is possible that he will receive additional charges. De St. Croix is currently being held without bail.

The Executive Director of the Bangor Homeless Shelter stated that there are insignificant resources to support Bangor’s large population. There are only two homeless shelters in Bangor. Bangor Homeless Shelter currently has 38 beds, and the other shelter, The Hope House, has over 60.

In 2016, it was recorded that 61 percent of the homeless adults in Maine had a mental illness, and approximately 30 percent self-reported a street drug addiction or alcohol abuse.

A severe lack of affordable psychological services means that the homeless population is not getting sufficient addiction relief services or treatment for mental illness. It is likely that these were factors in the double murder.

My theory is that these factors, along with a potential personal vendetta or argument with the two who were killed led to the homicide.

Again, it is quite unsettling when murders and other crimes are occurring less than 20 minutes away from your home.

The only positive is watching the community band together and dedicate themselves to intervention, in hopes that history will not be repeated. I just wish that it didn’t take a horrific tragedy for the community to take action.