Maine

12-year-old abducted, sexually assaulted, stabbed, and strangled

July 6, 1988
Bowdoin, Maine
12-year-old Sarah Cherry is abducted, sexually assaulted, stabbed, and strangled

Sarah had been babysitting an 11-month-old baby when she was abducted. The baby’s parents came home to find their child in the crib, unharmed. Sarah, who had “always been very reliable,” was no where to be found.

Sarah’s body was found two days later. According to court records, she was “bound and gagged, with her pants pulled down, one stick protruding from her vagina and another stick protruding from her anus.” Sarah had been stabbed with a small blade and sexually assaulted before she was strangled to death.

The murder was linked to 30-year-old Dennis Dechaine after he was seen the day of the murder emerging from the woods near where Sarah’s body was found, an auto-repair receipt and notebook belonging to Dechaine were found in the driveway of the home where Sarah was babysitting, and rope was found in Dechaine’s truck matching the rope used to bind Sarah. Dechaine explained his truck had been stolen and the true killer had left behind the evidence. He also stated the reason he was in the woods was to get high on amphetamines.

The jury convicted Dechaine of murder and sentenced him to death. Though Dechaine has amassed a following of supporters who believe he is innocent, his final appeal was rejected by the federal court in 2016.

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