Members of the state’s board of parole will decide again this week if a man who brutally murdered a woman in Litchfield 40 years ago should go free.
The woman’s family members are again gearing up to argue that he should spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Michael Boucher, 63, is scheduled for a parole hearing Thursday at the Maine State Prison in Warren. Boucher was convicted in 1991 of murdering 18-year-old Debra Dill in 1973 in the woods off Whippoorwill Road in Litchfield.
Vicki Dill, who was 10 when her sister was murdered, said this week her family will plea with the parole board to keep Boucher behind bars. The Dills, who have already met with Gov. Paul LePage, continue to add names to a petition that already includes the names of more than 1,000 people. Dill said she and two sisters, as well as their mother, plan to attend the hearing. Vicki Dill’s husband, as well as friends and representatives from Parents of Murdered Children, will also attend the hearing and urge the board to deny Boucher parole and keep him in prison.
“He was sentenced to life,” Dill said. “He should stay there.”
Boucher strangled Debra Dill with his hands and beat her with a hammer after reportedly targeting her at random and then hitting her car with his vehicle in hopes of getting her to stop.
Boucher eluded investigators for nearly 20 years, during which time he racked up a lengthy criminal record that included at least two convictions for aggravated assault as well as public indecency, theft and harassment. When police finally connected Boucher to Dill’s murder, they found a box he had kept that contained some of Dill’s belongings.
State laws were changed in 1979 to eliminate parole, but Boucher was sentenced under laws that existed in 1973 when he murdered Debra Dill. That means Boucher is eligible for parole despite being sentenced to life in prison.
Boucher has typically had a parole hearing every five years, the most recent of which occurred in May 2011. The parole board decided to keep him behind bars after that most recent hearing, but scheduled his next hearing for May of this year.
According to transcripts of the 2011 hearing provided by the Department of Corrections, Neale Duffett, a parole board member, commended Boucher for his “growth” and “insight” into his behavior after Boucher wrote the Dill family a letter saying, “That whole night wasn’t an accident” and that he “took somebody’s life because of being a coward and not facing my responsibilities.”
Boucher claimed in the letter that he had hit Debra Dill’s car by accident and then panicked because he was driving without a license and was under the influence. Dill’s family has never read the letter, but it impressed the members of the parole board.
“The 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.”
At the conclusion of the 2011 hearing, Duffett encouraged Boucher to develop a realistic plan for re-entering society. Boucher, while acknowledging he has no family in Maine, expressed a wish to remain in this state and not to return to Connecticut or Arizona, where he had lived previously. Duffett suggested Boucher find a program that allows inmates to get a job in the community to ease the transfer once he is released.
“There are other lifers who have successfully paroled who have gone that route,” Duffett said.
Boucher announced that day that he would apply for community release. Boucher was transferred to the minimum Downeast Correctional Facility in Machiasport in May 2013 and was placed with a supervised crew that performs work in the community.
The move to Machiasport alarmed Vicki Dill and her family, who believed Boucher was being prepared for release. Boucher was returned to the Maine State Prison in Warren in January and has remained there since. Corrections officials have not said why Boucher was moved back to Warren or how it might impact his chances for release.
Vicki Dill said her family asked LePage during their meeting to find out why Boucher was moved back to Warren and why that information was kept from the family. Dill said last week she had not heard back from the governor’s office.
Dill said the governor planned to send a letter to the parole board urging that Boucher remain in prison. LePage’s office did respond to a message seeking the status of that letter.
Dill said she appreciated the chance to meet with LePage.
“I gave him a copy of the picture of Debbie, the one that I carry with me, and he kept it on the desk, in view, the entire time we met,” Vicki Dill said.
Craig Crosby — 621-5642[email protected]Twitter: @CraigCrosby4