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The Trim Murders although long forgotten by most, peaked my interest enough to attempt to chronicle the murders; their aftermath and the trial.  Although I sarcastically point out the inept law officers; the Unruly Judge who flat out declared that Smith's friends and family were lying to defend him.  In other words viewer discretion is advised. 


ITEM: The Trim Murders

Location: A little more south of Bangor, and little less north of Ellsworth.

Date: October 13, 1876

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.

Captain 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.

A 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.

When 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 type out.

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.

The 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.

No trace of the granddaughter was ever found. If she had burned in the fire, she had so thoroughly that nothing was left of her.

This is a similar house, to the Trim Farm.
Right down to its inhabitants.

This isn't the actual Trim House, the original was burned in 1876.  It is similar to the style and description of an 1850's farmhouse, as described in the newspaper accounts.  Also it is correctly situated with the road going across the front and the driveway down the side.  As well as the carriage house attached to the back of the house.  The Barn would have been down further in the same line, just out of picture.  If I witnessed a fire from a house this size, I'm pretty sure I would have come running and tried to save whoever might be left alive

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