Location: A little more south of Bangor,
and little less north of Ellsworth.
This next cold case is 3 times as disturbing
and gruesome as the Sara Ware case, because it was 3 people that lost their lives. They convicted a man, this time around,
purely on circumstantial evidence, but as I lay out the facts and the story, I’ll let you judge.
Mrs. Melissa Thayer had moved back to Bucksport after the death of her
husband, with her 4 year old daughter. She had moved in with her 73 or 74 year old dad named Robert Trim. The year was 1876,
so horse and wagon, or foot was the mode of travel of the day, it was a more peaceful time. She was in her early 30’s
and intended to set up a modest school for her child and the neighborhood children in their large homestead.
It was a cool evening on October 13, 1876. The on-coming night was still
not for some time, so she had decided to walk to the nearby post office, and drop off or send a letter. When she walked towards
the neighbors, the Harriman’s stepdaughter Ada Snow came out and said, since Captain Smith was visiting his sister-in-law,
he had married her mother‘s sister, so it would be okay if she walked with Mrs. Thayer to the post office. As one account
has it, another has Ada Snow being escorted by Captain Smith to nearby neighbors the Phillips. On the way they meet up with
Mrs. Thayer, and then Ada decides to go with her to the Post Office, so they all return back to the Harriman's.
Captain Smith and his wife had stayed in the Trim Homestead helping,
Mr. Trim with yard work and chores, while he waited for his next ship to leave. He was a well known and trusted Captain having
sailed the seven seas. When they received word of Mr. Trim’s daughter moving back, they had moved back into the Bucksport
village, but he always came by and visited.
Smith had walked out earlier in the day, gunning what we call hunting rabbits, partridge and squirrels. He had helped Mr.
Trim unload a wagon full of shingles, for the renovations and then walked up to visit his sister-in-law.
When the women returned from there walk, Adam said her goodnights, and
that was the last anyone ever saw of Mrs. Thayer, alive again.
little after midnight or after 3 a.m. another neighbor woke up to a light, coming from the Trim house, when she looked out
she saw the barn and carriage house were on fire. Raising the alarm, the neighbors from all directions converged to help and
try and save the buildings. By the time they reached the barn, they could see who they guessed to be Mr. Trim, dead in the
burnt carriage house.
They (leaving exact names
out) managed to put the fire out enough, to retrieve his burnt body. His legs and arms had completely burned away.
The fire in both buildings had mostly burnt to the cellar, before they
were put out. A skeleton completely burnt of flesh that of Mrs. Thayer could be seen in the floor of the barn. No trace of
the daughter whose name I respectfully leave out was ever found.
A strange and I guess you could say paranormal event occurred then. A nephew of Trim had arrived and finding
the group of neighbors standing over the charred ruins of the buildings. He was white lipped and obviously shaken. He blurted
out a strange story of a vision that had come to him. In this vision his Uncle told him to go down to the lane, and find a
pole leaning against the side of a fence. I have only seen this mentioned in one more recent article, so it could have been
a vision of a vision by the author of the article, if you get my drift.
Skeptical but determined the unmentioned neighbors followed the directions and they found Melissa’s
bloody cloud, what they called a scarf in those days. These are the quoted words from the neighbor. “I picked up the
cloud and was horrified when blood dripped from it to the ground. “Drop the cloud,” said father. “This is
a case of murder.” I dropped the cloud where I had found it, and we saw that there was a trail of blood leading toward
the barn. We followed this trail and it took us back of the barn, which was now a smoking ruin.”
A Deputy Sheriff came from Bucksport village after telegraphing Ellsworth
for the sheriff. They conducted an investigation. Finding that 2 neighbor teens had been the last to see Mr. Trim and his
granddaughter alive. They had come calling, for what reason it isn’t pursued more then one to sign up for a singing
class and the other to return tools, at night in the dark, and had left after visiting around 9 o’clock. They said the
old man had asked them to see where Melissa was. They thinking she was visiting some neighbor, went to there homes.
Upon interview of other neighbors they heard mention of Captain Smith,
one of the best deepwater men in the state, having been in the area. When they went to not interview but arrest him at his
home, they noted drops of blood on his hat, a shirt, vest and pants and his heavy out coat, had been freshly dyed that morning,
in what looked like an attempt to hide the blood stains.
questioned about the blood on the hat and vest, the captain explained that he had been gunning or hunting several times over
the past weeks. Having shot rabbits, and partridge. He said the shirt he was wearing, had been the one he had on all week.
The detectives claimed it looked to clean, and un-rumpled. On the other hand, Mrs. Smith was a seamstress, so after mending
the pants, she could have dry brushed and ironed the shirt, it's not like they had a laundry-orama, next door. A spot
on his pants was said to be rust, from working in them. The coat was said to be faded and had been dyed that morning, in preparation
for a temperance meeting later that day or the following day. A pocket of the coat, had blood in it.
The blood although only spots was said to be completely dried, and not even tacky,
so soon after the killings. Upon further investigation, a knife and gun was found, again, to have blood droplets on them.
When the knife was checked by experts, they claimed it to have 2 kinds of blood on it. Also the coat did, according to the
experts have, rabbit, sheep, deer and 2 kinds of human blood. So in other words the coat looked like the Partridge family
bus, I'm sure they could tell, just what blood was what, the trial was 6 months later. Plenty of time to sort every blood
The Captain was taken into custody, and
it seems like no other avenues were pursued. While in custody at the Robinson House, a local hotel (Jed Prouty) he stayed
in a room across the hall from the sheriff. The Sheriff was woken one night, to come and see the prisoner. The Captain had
been put in irons, and his hands had swollen up, and cut off the circulation, and blood had run down his shirt from his wrists.
The Sheriff loosened the irons, and the next morning,
the shirt was exchanged and put into evidence. They had investigated the scene of Mrs. Thayer’s murder, noting the cloud,
a comb and rubbers, I’m guessing boots. A Rock covered with blood was also taken into evidence and thought to be the
murder weapon. Or one of them anyway, don't forget the shot gun, the knife or the 3 foot string.
It was thought that Smith, had waited for Mrs. Thayer, and then knocked her unconscious
with the rock, and then slit her throat in an attempt to rob her. Then leaving her in a ditch, he waited for the youths to
leave the Trim Homestead and went and killed the old man and his granddaughter. The money thought to be in the Trim possession
from the Estate of Mr. Thayer, was never recovered.
trial was set and even though Captain Smith maintained his innocence throughout, was found guilty on the blood evidence on
the clothes and knife and gun, alone. With a motive of robbery. Since there was no confession, he was given life imprisonment,
which turned out to be a rather long stay; he was struck with an iron pipe by another prisoner and died of his wounds, in
1908, some 30 years after his trial.
of the granddaughter was ever found. If she had burned in the fire, she had so thoroughly that nothing was left of her.