After we received the letter, we were devastated to say the least. It seemed all of our dreams, all of our plans, were slipping through our fingers. Thoughts raced through my head. We would now be the target of hate crimes. We would be the targets of assumptions and misunderstandings. We would be….targets.
Should we get a dog? A security system? Should we move to Canada?? (Yes, relocating definitely crossed our minds!)
As much as I was worrying, I could see this tortured my fiance even more. He said he would be willing to do whatever it took to keep our family safe….including not marrying me and moving out of our home if that’s what it took.
We contacted his lawyer. There was no way out of this, other than asking for a pardon. This is still something we are considering. His circumstances were a little different. He never would have accepted the plea if he knew he would end up on the registry. The law changed since his court plea over 8 years ago. Although we had let the past be the past, we are now being forced to face his past head on, each and every day for the next 10 years.
Not marrying this man never was an option for me. When I agreed to marry him, I already agreed in my mind and in my heart to the vows we would take before God, our family and friends. These vows included through good times, and bad. This was going to be a long and bumpy road, but we knew the only way to get through it was to be together, keeping each other strong.
So what now? Where did this leave our wedding plans? And….how were we going to tell people??
Merry Christmas! I would like to take this opportunity to share another story which has changed my life. The story of the birth of Jesus Christ.
The Birth of Jesus
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while[a] Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to their own town to register.
4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
14“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
21 On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
Because of this amazing birth, everyone has the opportunity to have their past erased, to be forgiven, to be changed and to have a second chance.
Praise God for fulfilling his promise and sending his son!
From my family to yours, Merry Christmas, may you feel loved this day and every day to come.
I remember the day well. We had spent the weekend in Houlton at my husband’s family’s and Matthew retrieved the mail. Nothing was done with it, as I was having surgery the next day so our minds were elsewhere.
The following morning, Matthew took me in for my outpatient surgery. I have been having pains in my stomach, and my surgeon was going to remove excess scar tissue that had grown from my uterus onto my other organs. This was a simple, outpatient surgery, but I could see the terror in my fiance’s eyes all the same. Before they took me away, he told me, “I love you and I will be here when you wake up. I will always be here for you, babe.” I smiled at his words, and my heart swelled for adoration for this man who continues every day to promise to love me and be there for me forever. The man, I had already agreed, to love and support for a lifetime as well.
Surgery went well, and that afternoon I was home and resting comfortably, thanks to medications, in bed. I was barely aware of what was going on around me. I knew the kids were at my mother’s for the day, and my husband was sitting at the desk in the bedroom. I vaguely remember hearing him sniffle. I asked, “is everything okay?” He had lost his own mom to cancer the previous year, and sometimes things make him think of her, and he will cry.
“We will talk about it later,” he managed to squeek out. My husband, a big, strong, solid man’s man was crying…this was not going to wait until later.
“You can tell me now, hun. What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I was going through the mail and I got a letter about registration,” he simply said, “we will talk about it later”.
No amount of medication was going to stop me from completing this conversation. I was confused. Why would he be crying over a letter from the State of Maine asking him to register….and register what? Our cars were already registered, the boat which sat in our back yard was never used, and we didn’t have a dog. I didn’t understand.
“I have to register as a sex offender,” he muffled, as he turned to me with tears streaming down his rose tinted cheeks.
All I could managage to say, in my disbelief, is, “it’s going to be okay.” I didn’t know how, I didn’t know why, and I barely was grasping the life altering effects this would have on our family, but I did somehow know that we were going to be okay. He crawled into bed with me and we consoled each other for the rest of the night. Both of us having our own reasons for needing the other, and both unwilling to budge from the grasp we held on one another. We layed there wondering what the future had in store, and wondered about changes that might have to be made in our family structure. I wondered, could it be, this was all a dream and if so, when will I wake up….
So, this man I am about to marry is notified he needs to register as a sex offender. Instantly my mind rushes this article I read by Judy Harrison at the Bangor Daily News.
“A Canadian man wanted in connection with the slayings of two registered sex offenders in Maine fatally shot himself Sunday night after being cornered by police on a bus approaching South Station in Boston, authorities said.
Stephen A. Marshall, 20, shot himself in the head with a .45 caliber handgun when officers stopped the bus he was on and climbed aboard at about 7:25 p.m., said David Procopio, spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney.
Officers heard a gunshot and found Marshall with a massive head wound in a window seat 13 rows behind the driver, Procopio said.
He was rushed to Boston Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 11:24 p.m., a hospital spokeswoman said.
No one else on the bus was injured, Procopio said, but five passengers who were splattered with blood were taken to area hospitals to be examined.
“This is the suspect who is wanted in connection with two separate homicides in Maine,” Procopio said.
Police cornered Marshall on a Vermont Bus Lines coach that he had boarded in Bangor, Procopio said.
The bus was on a ramp leading onto Interstate 90, a short distance from its destination at Boston’s South Station.
Paramedics found a second handgun in Marshall’s possession when they treated him for his injuries, Procopio said.
Maine State Police alerted Boston authorities after discovering Marshall’s pickup truck abandoned in Bangor and then finding bullets linked to him in the restroom of a bus station, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Police believed he was headed to Boston, but law enforcement officials in Maine and Canada continued searching Sunday night for the teenager suspected of gunning down two sex offenders in their homes early Easter morning.
State police Sunday afternoon had issued an alert for Marshall, of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, describing him as a “person of interest” considered to be “armed and dangerous.”
The shooting victims were identified as Joseph L. Gray, 57, of 233 West Main St. in Milo and William Elliott, 24, of 953 Main St. in Corinth.
A woman who reportedly witnessed the Corinth shooting gave detectives a license plate number and a description of the truck in which the gunman fled the scene. Bangor police found a 2002 Toyota Tundra pickup bearing that license plate at about 1 p.m. Sunday behind Sawyer Arena in Hayford Park in Bangor.
The mud-splattered silver truck was parked next to a trash container behind the skating rink on Thirteenth Street. It is registered to a Ralph A. Marshall of Houlton. Stephen Marshall had come to Houlton for the first time to meet his father, McCausland said. Marshall was using his father’s pickup.
No vehicle was reported stolen from the Aroostook County community, according to Cpl. Tom Donahue of the Houlton Police Department.
No one answered at the truck owner’s last known Houlton address when attempts were made Sunday to contact him.
The truck was taken to the state police crime lab in Augusta for processing after detectives photographed it and went through two green trash bags in the trash container. A police dog and its handler searched the woods behind the arena, then returned to a patrol car to wait for the state police tow truck.
Gray was shot at about 3 a.m., and Elliott was killed approximately five hours later, Maine State Police Lt. Jackie Theriault said at a press conference Sunday afternoon at the Corinth Snowmobile Club.
The state police set up a command post at the club, located less than a half-mile north of Elliott’s trailer on Route 15. A mobile command vehicle, purchased with Homeland Security funds that Bangor police received last summer, was parked in the club’s driveway.
Theriault said the victims were registered sex offenders and that as a precaution the Maine Sex Offender Registry, which is maintained by the state police and contains photos, names and addresses of more than 2,200 Maine registered sex offenders, had been taken offline. The state police official did not elaborate.
Elliott was convicted in 2002 in 3rd District Court in Newport of sexual abuse of a minor and sentenced to four months in jail. As a result of that misdemeanor conviction, he was ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
Information on Gray’s criminal history was not available Sunday.
The father of the Corinth victim said Sunday night in a phone interview with the Bangor Daily News that his son was awakened about 8 that morning by a knock on the door.
“He went to the door, opened it up, and the guy just started shooting,” said Wayne Elliott, 61, of Charleston. “He kept shooting after he fell to the floor.”
The elder Elliott said that his son’s girlfriend witnessed the shooting and was able to describe the shooter to police.
“I loved him very much and he loved me, and we always told each other that,” Wayne Elliott said. “I saw him day before yesterday, and yesterday talked to him on phone. I had no idea anybody hated him this much. He had all kinds of friends and was a hard worker.”
William Elliott operated a small junkyard from his rented residence, his father said. The trailer, located in a gully on Route 15 in Corinth, was surrounded Sunday by tires, a school bus, appliances and other discarded items.
In Milo,  miles from the junkyard, yellow police tape blocked off the long driveway to Gray’s neat white, ranch-style home nestled in a pine wood. A white mailbox nearby, decorated with bright, red cardinals, had the number 233 stamped on it in black.
Detectives said that in addition to the state police, the Bangor Police Department, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the Penobscot and Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Departments assisted in the investigation.
It was not immediately clear if or how Marshall knew either Gray or Elliott, or if the three men had any connection with one another.
“We will try to establish what is the link between these three men, but as of tonight there’s no known connection,” McCausland said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.”
How can we feel safe after something like this happened? My mind wondered to other things as well…..
He makes me laugh. He is loving, caring, kind. He is a provider, and a man of wisdom. He is also a registered sex offender.
When we started dating, Matthew and I discovered we had a lot in common. We both had a passion for sports, we enjoyed similar music, types of food, television shows, and we were both single parents. We enjoyed each other’s company in a way no one but he and I could understand. We smiled at the same inside jokes, we got excited for reality TV, and our favorite date was take out chinese while watching Sunday football. We complimented each other in ways most couples only imagined. It was only inevitable that we discuss taking the next step. I asked him to move in.
While in the moving process, I discovered something a little unsettling. Okay, that was an understatement. I found something that made my stomach feel like I had swallowed a jug of bitterly gagging curdled milk. I found court papers. Papers that he took a plea which would change his life forever. A plea, that would have an ever-lasting effect on me and my family. I plea that would put him on the sex offender registry.
My first thought was I could not have this man in my house; not with my children. Then my next thought was, how does he have equal rights to his son if he is a sex offender? My interest peaked, and I had to ask.
He pulled out all the documentation. He told me to read it and ask him if I had any questions, and he would answer them honestly for me. The room felt like it was spinning, and I was losing grip on this perfect budding relationship. I was losing sight of my future, but I sat there and I read.
I read how almost 9 years ago, Matthew was clearly under the influence of alcohol, alone in his dorm room chatting on the computer. I read how the girl he was chatting with claimed to be older then she really was. The chat got sexual, and the chat got…dirty. Then, I read how the father found out, disclosed to Matthew that his daughter was only 14 and how he would see him behind bars.
I asked him to explain why he plead guilty. He explained how court appointed lawyers don’t really fight for you if you are involved in a “sex crime” with a minor. In Maine, this is what this was considered. He explained that the lawyer worked out a plea bargain. He would have a suspended jail sentence, so he wouldn’t actually face time in prison, a year of probation, and he would have to undergo extensive counseling. Matthew, at 21, didn’t want to go to prison, so he settled for pleading guilty to solicitation of a minor over computer – a class D misdemeanor in Maine.
I thought over…and over…and over. I understood. I was furious, but I understood. He didn’t lie to me. At this point, he was not on the registry and didn’t have to tell me anything, but he did. He was honest. He admitted to being wrong, he completed everything that was asked of him, and he completed all of his counseling. He was honest, and recovered. He was taken for a spin and he made the best of it. I trusted him.
He moved in with me that week. Not once have I felt the need to not trust him. Not once has my daughters acted or said anything that made them feel uncomfortable around him. No one needed to know his history, no one needed to judge our relationship. We continued in our happy, growing relationship together.
I became a mother to his son, and he became a father to my daughters. We began attending church, re-committing ourselves to our faith together. We were happy. So happy, that Matthew asked me to marry him on a Sunday night during a football half time, in the midst of our white glimmering Christmas lights. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
We began planning the wedding. Matthew was as involved as I was, having a dream wedding all planned in his mind. He wanted a large, traditional, classy wedding. His vision, to me, was beautiful. Everything was going as planned. We had found a home to purchase together. We moved into our new community. The kids were well established and enjoying school. They were making friends, attending functions and parties. Everything was running smoothly when it came. The letter that would change our lives. The letter that would stop our plans dead in their tracks. The letter that stated Matthew was required to go on the Maine State Sex Offender registry.