Troy and Dulsie Varney stand with their daughters Audrey and Shelby at Shermirley Farm in Turner in this undated photo. Troy and Dulsie Varney were killed in their home Friday, Feb. 12. Family photo posted on gofundme.org

TURNER — When Audrey and Shelby Varney return to Shermirley Farm, they will walk back into a home with a full security system.

Their parents, Troy and Dulsie Varney, were killed in the home on Knight Farm Road last Friday.

Patrick J. Maher, 24, has been charged with two counts of murder. He is being held without bail at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn and was expected to make his initial court appearance early this week, but Monday’s holiday and Tuesday’s snowstorm have delayed that appearance.

According to several sources, Maher — who was renting a room from the Varneys — ambushed the sleeping couple in their home around 1:30 a.m. and stabbed them multiple times. Troy Varney was reported to have fought off Maher and held onto him until Androscoggin County Sheriff’s deputies arrived.

The couple died at a Lewiston hospital.

In the days immediately following the murders, members of the close farming community in Turner and many others have reached out to the extended Varney family to see what they could do to help the couple’s daughters, Audrey and Shelby. Both are graduates of Leavitt Area High School in Turner; Audrey in 2018 and Shelby in 2020.

Top of the list is a security system so the sisters would feel safe once they return home, and a gofundme page was set up by their relative, Donna Varney, to make that purchase and so much more.

The goal of the page is to raise $100,000. As of Tuesday afternoon, some 915 donors had given close to $85,000.

According to Donna Varney’s request for donations, she wrote: “We want to raise money to help the girls. So many people have reached out to the family to help. So, we decided to start a fund for them.

“We would like to start with putting a security system in their home. So perhaps, they may return back home to the legacy of living on the farm that their parents left for them,” she wrote, a farm that their father had hoped they would continue working.

The Varneys moved to Shermirley Farm in 1990; in 2019, a large barn was destroyed by fire but no one was injured. The farm, formerly known as the Knight Farm, was established by Troy Varney’s paternal grandparents, Sherm and Shirley Varney, in 1960.

The donations range from a high of $5,000 to a low of $10, and include a number of prominent people and businesses in the Turner area.

The Embrace Nutrition Smoothie & Juice Bar in Lewiston, which is owned by Adam and Danielle Stevens, is also raising money for the siblings, donating part of all sales of Varney Tea and all cash tips through the end of the month.

Dulsie Varney and Danielle Stevens were cousins.

In response to an email from the Sun Journal, Donna Varney wrote that Audrey and Shelby really appreciate the love, support and generosity the community has shown them. “People from all over have reached out to help out in whatever way they can,” she said.

Donna Varney said Dulsie was her best friend and she knows that if the situation were reversed, and her children were in need, Dulsie “would be the first one organizing and doing this for my children. Dulsie was a caring and nurturing mother, wife and friend. She was a wonderful nurse and loved teaching.”

Dulsie Varney was a nursing instructor at Lewiston Regional Technical Center, where she is being mourned by the staff.

And, Donna Varney said, “Troy Varney was a hardworking humble man who was the most honest and generous person you could know. He was a family man, a great father and husband and he loved his community.”

Donna said Troy, a dairy farmer and owner/operator of T.W. Varney Excavation, was her husband’s cousin and best friend.

“Our community lost two of the best people we know,” and providing financial assistance to their daughters is important to many people, Donna Varney said.

She also said she and others in their extended family would like to see the Varneys’ daughters be able to return to their farm, which the family has farmed for four generations, but they’re going to need a lot of help and the money now being raised will go a long way “to help provide for a sense of stability and security for them.”

“Troy and Dulsie’s lives were their children,” Donna Varney said. “They were very proud parents who loved their daughters and family very much. They would do anything to help others in need.”

And, Donna said, due to the outpouring of support and donations their daughters know and understand their parents were loved by so many and the “girls want the world to know that their dad was their hero.”

Maine State Police have released very few details on the case, including what might have provoked the attack, but neighbors reported that Maher had been acting strange in the days leading up to the murders. Maher had been working at a local grocery store and one of his family members said he had been increasingly depressed over being cooped up due to COVID-19.

According to Maine Department of Public Safety Spokeswoman Katharine, “this is an active and ongoing investigation, more details will become available at a later time.”

Staff writer Nate Fournier contributed to this report.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: