PORTLAND – A Canadian man accused of killing two central Maine men who were on the state’s online sex offender registry held strong views that sexual abusers should be punished to the full extent of the law. He also had a love of guns.
While living in Idaho as a teenager, Stephen A. Marshall and his friends sometimes talked about sexual abusers when the subject came up in the news.
“We just said the people who were guilty of it were worthless. We all agreed it was heinous,” Joe Reisdorph, 20, of Moscow, Idaho, said in a telephone interview. “We thought sexual predators were worse than killers.”
As a teen in Culdesac, Idaho, Marshall was charged with aggravated assault after pointing an assault rifle at a neighborhood boy who was fighting with a friend in the front yard of the home of Marshall’s father, according to police records.
On Thursday, Maine State Police Detectives Brian Strout and David Preble traveled to Nova Scotia to process Marshall’s stranded pickup, search his apartment and interview friends and family, while technicians in Maine began processing Marshall’s laptop computer.
Detectives are trying to gain an understanding of what prompted Marshall to shoot Joseph Gray, 57, of Milo and William Elliott, 24, of Corinth.
Marshall targeted the men after looking at the online records of 34 people on the state’s Internet sex offender registry, police said. He killed himself in Boston after police stopped a bus he was on near South Station.
Marshall, who was 20 when he died, was born in Texas. His parents moved to Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, when he was young. After his parents divorced, he later moved with his father, Ralph Marshall, to Culdesac, a town of fewer than 400 residents near Lewiston in northern Idaho. Ralph Marshall was executive director of the Clearwater Economic Development Association and the mayor of Culdesac for nearly three years before moving to Arizona.
Stephen Marshall was a quiet and intelligent teenager who was close to his father, said Sharon Marcell, the Culdesac city clerk and treasurer.
“He had a love for guns,” Marcell said. “He and his dad went to gun shows all the time.”
Reisdorph described Marshall as a popular classmate who occasionally made prank phone calls and had a liking for computers, video games, hunting and guns.
It was a gun that got him into trouble in April 2001, when he was 15, according to a Nez Perce County Sheriff’s Department report. That’s when Reisdorph’s younger brother, Chris, and a 16-year-old boy from the neighborhood got into a fight in Marshall’s front yard after Chris Reisdorph squirted Nathan Tyler with a water gun.
Marshall yelled, “Let him go!” the police report said. “Mr. Tyler looked up and saw Mr. Marshall standing in the door … with a black gun.” The Sheriff’s Department was called in after Tyler told an adult neighbor what happened.
When deputies arrived, Marshall told them the gun was unloaded and that he hadn’t pointed it in Tyler’s direction. Deputies arrested Marshall and confiscated a Colt Sport .223-caliber rifle with a 30-round magazine.
Maine detectives investigating Marshall’s background are aware of no arrests other than the one when Marshall was a juvenile in Idaho, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Public Safety Department.
Officials searching for clues into Marshall’s frame of mind also have looked into a possible link between Marshall and a notorious sex abuser, Clark Gerwulf, 72, who was sentenced last month to life in prison in Idaho.
Gerwulf lived in Culdesac at the same time Marshall did, but there’s nothing to indicate Marshall was a victim, said Sandra Dickerson, who prosecuted Gerwulf for the Nez Perce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Reisdorph said Marshall would have told him if he had been abused. “He was a real good friend of mine. I don’t know what would have caused him to do it,” he said. “I wish I knew.”
As the investigation continued, state police indicated it could be several days before they unlock the mysteries of Marshall’s computer.
The detectives who traveled to Canada planned to process Marshall’s pickup, which broke down in Canada last week as he drove from his home in eastern Nova Scotia to Houlton, where he visited his father, McCausland said.
Investigators do not expect to release information about what they find on the computer before next week, he said. The forensic evaluation of the laptop could take 80 hours or more.