Teen girl at sleepover found strangled; second teen missing after claiming knowledge
Solve This Crime 04/21/2016 11:17 am PDT
Two of New England's most troubling cold cases and the tangled web that connects them. It all starts with the murder of a 15-year-old high school student.
Lise Ouellette's daughter Ashley's life was cut tragically short in 1999, a horrendous murder that remains officially unsolved.
But now, the secrets that started on a dark winter morning just might get revealed in the light of day.
Saco, Maine, just outside of Portland, is your typically beautiful New England town. And Ashley Ouellette was your typical 15-year-old girl.
When Ashley asked her mom if she could sleep over at a friend's house, there was really no cause for concern.
At just after 10 p.m. on February 9, 1999, Lise got a goodnight call from Ashley, the last words she ever heard from her daughter.
Six hours later, at almost exactly 4 a.m., a man driving home from work sees something in the road ahead. As he gets closer, he realizes, to his horror, it's a dead teenage girl. It's Ashley Ouellette, strangled to death, with her neck broken.
How did Ashley get from the safety of a friend's sleepover to the hard cold asphalt of Pine Point road in a neighboring town nearly 10 miles away?
It doesn't take long to piece together the last few hours of Ashley's life. The timeline begins at 10 p.m., just after her goodnight call to her mom. Ashley and her sleepover friends are visited by a few boys from school. And Ashley's mom says she was told one of the boys was named Jay Carney.
"So the girls let them in and the girls started talking and then they said they were heading up to the Sanborn house," said Lise Ouellette. The home of Earl and Muriel Sanborn. Their sons, Steven and Danny, are also Ashley's classmates.
"I think she wanted to be with Steven," said Lise. "I think she had a crush on him but I don't think she was ever involved with him, and that's the thing, she wanted to see Steven that night, from what the girls said."
According to a friend, Ashley stayed at the Sanborns' house while the other girls went home.
What happens next depends on who you ask.
The Sanborn boys and their parents have told police Ashley was offered a place to sleep on their couch. But they claim she left on her own after they all went to bed. It's about 10 miles from the Sanborn residence to Ashley's home.
Police are suspicious, and get a search warrant for the Sanborn home and Daniel's car. They want to know what happened at the Sanborns'.
According to published news reports, police retrieve what appear to be spots of blood and evidence of sexual activity from the Sanborn home.
They also impound Danny Sanborn's car. They find patches of dry brown grass similar to grass found on Ashley's body.
Raising even more suspicion, Danny can't keep his story straight. In an affidavit, he first says he went to school that morning; later, Danny changes his story and tells authorities he spent the day at the beach.
To Ashley's family, that's reason for suspicion. But it's not enough for cops to make an arrest, or file charges. Police won't name a suspect.
Despite Ashley's mom's beliefs, Danny Sanborn denies any involvement and has never been charged in connection with Ashley's murder. He and his brother Steven, along with his parents, have been questioned by the cops several times, and they've never been charged with any wrongdoing either.
Crime Watch Daily did confirm Danny Sanborn does have a long rap sheet. He's been convicted of assault on a police officer and spent three years in prison, after being busted for heroin possession with intent to distribute.
The Maine State Police calls this an open, ongoing, and confidential investigation, and will not comment at this time. But there is one person who claims he knows who did it.
The man who could solve the murder mystery goes missing.
As police continue the search for Ashley Ouellette's killer, another family begins the search for their missing son. And the two cases would cross paths.
Ashley was strangled to death and her neck was reportedly broken. Then, somebody dumped her body on a desolate road in Saco, Maine before dawn on a cold February morning.
In the tangled web of rumor and suspicion. There's one young man who says he knows for sure who did it. But this horrible secret would disappear with him three months later.
Tony Torres was a popular, athletic young man from the area who had moved to Massachusetts for college.
"He was a good son who always made time for family," said Narciso Torres, Tony's father. "His last trip home was no different. He came to honor his mom on Mother's Day, and it was just like any other visit. Telling us how he was doing in school, and life seemed good for him."
Tony also never missed a chance to hang out with his high school friends back home.
That spring break, the party talk around the area was consumed with who killed Ashley Ouellette. Everybody in the small town was talking about it. In fact, one night at home with his parents, Tony drops a chilling revelation about her murder.
"He didn't tell us who but he said he knows who did it, and he said it in a way that he left no doubt," said Narciso Torres.
"We were in the living room watching the news and the story of Ashley Ouellette came up and he immediately said 'I know who killed her. I knew the people who killed her,'" said Narciso.
"And I cautioned him: 'You're either going to go to the police with this information or you're going to keep your mouth shut, but be careful who you share this with,'" said Narciso.
"At the time I didn't know how much to believe that he actually knew and the little bit of, a little part of me feared for him. Because, you know, witnesses can be silenced. I wish I could go back now and pick him up by his shirt and say 'We're going to the police right now,'" said Narciso. "But I didn't do that."
Tony's dad was right to be concerned. Three months after Ashley's murder, Tony mysteriously vanishes.
Tony's parents shared with Crime Watch Daily the timeline of that night as told to them by police.
At 2 a.m., Tony is partying with at his ex-girlfriend's apartment. A close friend of the Sanborns, Jay Carney, was also there.
Tony and Carney leave together for a store on the corner. A short time later Carney comes back alone. Tony is never seen again.
Jay Carney is the same guy who reportedly gave Ashley a ride to the Sanborns the night she was murdered.
Tony has been missing for 17 years. He was declared dead in 2004, but his body has never been recovered. His family believes there's a connection between Ashley's murder and Tony's disappearance.
Carney died of a drug overdose last year.
Both Ashley's murder and Tony's disappearance are open and active cases, and Maine State Police will not comment about either one of them right now.
Maine State Police are no longer talking. Both investigations are still open, but police are not releasing any records.
Nobody has ever been charged with either crime.
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