Thank you for publishing Bernie Huebner’s Aug. 17 letter, “Two articles suggest Dechaine case not over.” In doing so, you have brought to public attention a vital piece of information about the Sarah Cherry murder case that might have led the jury to a verdict other than the conviction of Dennis Dechaine, who has now been imprisoned for 27 years.

While we don’t know for sure if the written statement Sheila Appleton gave to Detective Steven Drake said her brother had confessed to the murder, we do know that statement is missing from police files. We also know that an acquaintance of Appleton has claimed publicly that a sobbing Appleton told her about the confession immediately after her brother allegedly made it.

Among other potentially vital evidence that is missing are unidentified fingerprints, a blood sample from Dechaine, and DNA material that the attorney general’s office deliberately incinerated. At the time, the DNA was most likely fresh enough to have solved the crime by itself, one way or another.

A nagging question for me is why few, if any, members of the news media have ever investigated the disappearance of all this information, even though the trail starts in public records available to everyone. If we no longer have a free press able and willing to roll up its sleeves and actively watch over our democracy, we’re in a lot of trouble.

Kudos to the newspaper for at least getting this revelation about the Dechaine case onto your editorial page. Now let’s get it on the front page.

Bob MacLaughlin


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