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The Murder of Stacy Messina - Submitted by George E. Tetreault - Portsmouth, NH. See George's listing on polygraphplace.com to inquire about his services

This true story is about a case involving a missing five and a half year old girl named Stacy Messina from her home in the town of Auburn, NH. The town is located between the town of Chester and the City of Manchester, NH.

Most of Auburn and Manchester abuts Lake Massabesic. An enormous effort was put forward with a search party of over two hundred Police Officers, Sheriff's Deputies, State Police divers who were combing the lake for fear that she may have fallen in and drowned. A host of civilian volunteers were going house to house and others were searching nearby woods.

After three days of searching a man who was described as a Soap Salesman had just returned from a three day sales trip throughout New England. When he got home and saw the missing girl on the news he went right to the police station and told them that on his way out of town that day he saw this man walking with the little girl along the lake front. He described the man for a police artist who was brought in to complete a composite.

When he was finished with the picture, the police immediately recognized the man as a local resident named Ernest Therrien. He had a record of minor criminal offenses. He was located shortly thereafter and brought into the station for questioning. When asked if he knew anything about the missing girl he replied "I did see her that day she was reported missing, over by the lake's edge." He further stated that he had no idea where she went after he spoke with her.

He was then asked if he would submit to a polygraph examination, and he said he would. I recall that day, it was a Sunday and I was at Fenway Park in Boston with my youngest son Scott enjoying a baseball game between the Red Sox and the California Angels. It was during the fourth inning when I heard my name paged over the ball park public address system asking me to report to the press gate in the east lobby. It was somewhat of a shock to hear my named being called over the public address system in front of about 35,000 fans. When I got to the east lobby an official told me to call my office immediately.

When I called , the Dispatcher, David Lincoln informed me that I had been ordered by the Sheriff to return to the office right away. When I arrived at my office the Sheriff greeted me along with the Chief of Police from Auburn, NH. He said they were bringing in a guy named Ernest Therrien who agreed to submit to a polygraph test in connection with the missing Messina girl.

I headed right for my polygraph suite and set up for the test. Shortly thereafter I was introduced to Ernest Therrien. After completing a very lenghty pre-test interview which included his consent to be examined, the admonishment of his rights, and the development and review of his question list he was linked to my polygraph instrument. The primary relevant questions were based on whether or not he caused any harm to this young girl which resulted in her disappearance. Once I completed three charts on his test I was convinced that he was being consistently deceptive.

Since I was sure that he had something to do with this girl's disappearance, my next thought was to run a different kind of test, called a probing peak of tension test. I left Mr. Therrien still linked to the equipment and told him that I would be right back. He was unaware that he was being observed by another officer in an observation room. I asked Chief Heald if there was anybody still in the building that could quickly draw up a map of the area. He said that the police artist was still here in the lobby and went and got him. He was then fed the necessary information to complete the map which didn't take him long to complete. I took the map into the polygraph room and pinned onto the wall directly in front of Mr. Therrien and asked him if it looked familiar to him, and he said it did and that he knew the area well.

The map consisted of the lake, a farm nearby, a large wooded area and a swamp or bog running for about a hundred yards or so along the lake and the woods. I pumped up the cuff and turned on the instrument and ran a probing peak of tension test. My first question was, is she in the lake, no response, followed by, is she in the woods, no response, is she on the farm, still no response then I asked him if she was in the swamp. At that moment he produced a sudden burst of electrical energy that caused the pens to nearly jump off the instrument as they remained locked up at the pens stops.

I shut down the instrument and without saying a word to Mr. Therrien I went outside the room with the map and asked Chief Heald if anybody had searched the swamp and he said no because you can't get in there, that it was like quicksand. I then informed him that it is my opinion from the way he reacted to the swampy area on the map that she must be in there. A call was placed to the search party and a short time later two fish and game officers wearing hip waders went into the bog about fifty yards or so and found the young girls feet sticking out of the mud.

The Chief went into the polygraph room and informed Therrien that he was now a prime suspect. He was given his rights again and interrogated . After nearly two hours of questioning he finally confessed to the murder of Stacy Messina. He was then arrested and brought to the county jail for bail that was set too high for him to meet.

In his deposition, he told police that he saw the young girl walking up a path from the lake and asked her what she was doing. She showed him a small pail and a net and said that she was looking for frogs. He then told her that he would show her where there were lots of frogs and led her off into the woods along side the lake and the swamp. Once he was hidden from view he began to take indecent liberties with her. It was when he got her completely undressed that she attempted to get away from him by running back towards her home and as she did she told him that she was going to tell her mother about him. He grabbed her by her fairly long blond hair and dragged her backwards and in one motion kicked her in the head alongside her temple. He was wearing steel tipped boots. Ironically he was wearing those same boots during his polygraph test. She went down on the ground and it looked to him like she was not breathing. He panicked and picked her up and ran as far as he could into the swamp and stuffed her into a large mud hole. At her autopsy it was discovered that she actually died from asphixiation when mud and vegetaion was discovered in her lungs.

At the onset of his trial, the presiding Judge issued a proclamation to the opposing attorneys that he did not want to hear the word 'polygraph' during any testimony or he was going to call a mistrial. Ernest Therrien was found guilty by reason of insanity and sentenced to the NH State Hospital for the criminally insane.

Now comes the paradox to this whole story. Ernest Therrien spent eight years at the state hospital and it was determined by those psychologist that were treating him that he was no longer criminally insane and that he was considered at a low risk of committing the same crime again. So the Courts let him out and back into the community of Concord NH. His freedom was very short lived.

Helen Ring, a woman who worked at the State Hospital and who became his friend while he was being treated there got him a job and a place to live in her home. She fed him his meals and let him stay rent free until he got financially self supporting. One fateful evening after several months had passed they were eating their supper when she confronted him about smoking marijuana in her home. It turned into a heated argument and she threatened to throw him out. He became enraged and grabbed her by the throat and strangled her in her living room.

At his trial for the murder of fifty year old Helen Ring in the Merrimack County Court in Concord, NH, he was convicted. This time the court has decided that they had enough of Ernest Therrien and sentenced him to life in prison with no chance for parole.

He is alive and well today serving out his sentence at the NH State Prison. However, as unfortunate as it may seem to us all, this maniac was given a second chance to kill again, only because the first Judge lacked judicial prudence during his trial for the murder of Stacy Messina at the Rockingham County Superior Court, in Exeter, NH during the fall of 1976.

The Murder of Stacy Messina - Submitted by George E. Tetreault - Portsmouth, NH. See George's listing on polygraphplace.com to inquire about his services

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