SKOWHEGAN — Two women who say they grew up in Anson and were friends of homicide victim Rita St. Peter said Monday that statements alleging that Jay Stephen Mercier, accused of killing St. Peter, was the father of her child are untrue.

“We were best friends. We were part of her daily life and we loved her,” said Belinda Schinzel, of New Portland. “We don’t want somebody to step up, looking for her 15 minutes of fame, looking for whatever sympathy.”

Maxine Cross, the Skowhegan woman who made those statements to reporters Friday outside District Court, has backed away from her original comments since then.

“I wasn’t sure myself,” she said Monday. “I’m not sure of what I said of him possibly being the father. I didn’t know for sure. I was told if I say any more, I could be in trouble with them putting him on trial and going to court.”

Cross had said Friday she was St. Peter’s biological sister. She also said Mercier was St. Peter’s boyfriend and was the father of St. Peter’s daughter, Terri Lynn, who was born in October 1977. The girl later was adopted and now has a different last name.

Efforts to reach Terri Lynn, now 33, for comment have been unsuccessful.

Schinzel, 46, and Nancy Lovejoy, 48, both of New Portland, said Cross may be St. Peter’s biological sister, as she claims, but she did not know the 20-year-old, whose battered body was found July 5, 1980, off Campground Road in Anson.

“We mean no disrespect to this woman, but she should never had opened up her mouth and said what she said, because it’s completely inaccurate,” Schinzel said. “He was never Rita’s boyfriend. We knew Terri Lynn’s father. We knew him personally and we knew her boyfriends. We still know her boyfriends.”

Mercier, 55, of Industry, is charged with murder in St. Peter’s death. He is scheduled for arraignment and a bail hearing Thursday in Somerset County Superior Court.

“This person told her when he picked her up that night, he says, ‘If I can’t be with you and we can’t be a family with our daughter, then nobody will.’ That’s why, I believe, she was killed,” Cross said Friday of Mercier. “That’s what I was told from my mother before she passed.”

Not so, Schinzel and Lovejoy say.

“What we’re saying is, this woman had no part of what was going on before, during or after this murder,” Schinzel said Monday. “To make a statement the way she did … it’s sick. Shut your mouth if you don’t know what you’re talking about.

“What bothers me more than anything is the fact that if she was that upset and that concerned, why would she do this to her niece? Terri Lynn knows who her father is.”

Schinzel and Lovejoy said they know who Terri Lynn’s father was, too, but would not reveal his name, at the family’s request. They said he lived in the Skowhegan area and has died.

Probate documents for guardianship of Terri Lynn St. Peter from 1979 on file at the Somerset County Courthouse do not list a name of the child’s father. The father’s name is listed as “undisclosed” on other documents related to Rita St. Peter.

Rita St. Peter turned her daughter over to her mother, Eva St. Peter, in March 1979 when she was preparing to enter the military, according to the documents. An affidavit signed by Rita St. Peter also does not disclose the name of the father of her child.

Birth certificates no longer are available to the public unless the person requesting to see the document is a family member or the birth was more than 75 years ago.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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