Judge Orders New DNA Testing In 1989 Murder Of Maine Girl

Sarah Cherry
youtube | NEWS CENTER Maine

News & Politics
Jessica Powers

Dennis Dechaine was convicted for the 1988 murder of 12-year-old babysitter Sarah Cherry in Maine. For years, the case was settled and the family got some sense of peace that the man responsible was behind bars.

But the judge is now ordering more DNA testing to be conducted on one of Maine's most notorious crimes.

Authorities Say Dennis Dechaine Kidnapped, Assaulted And Killed Sarah Cherry In 1989

Dennis Dechaine
youtube | NEWS CENTER Maine

Prosecutors say Dechaine kidnapped, tortured, sexually assaulted, and strangled Cherry in the woods of Bowdoin on July 6, 1988.

On that day, Sarah Cherry, who lived in Bowdoin, Maine with her mother, step-dad, and sister, was starting a new babysitting job.

At just after 8 a.m. the morning of July 6, 1988, the father of the family picked Sarah up and brought her back to their house, and by 9 a.m. that day, Sarah was alone at the home with the baby.

The mother called to check in on Sarah around noon and things seemed to be going well.

Sarah Cherry Was Babysitting In Maine When She Vanished From The Home

Dennis Dechaine
youtube | NEWS CENTER Maine

But just over three hours later, the mother returned home and found a notebook and a piece of paper in the driveway. She carried both of the items with her and walked through the unlocked door, just as she’d left it.

Nut the interior door leading from the attached garage into the home was open, which was unusual. The TV was on in the living room and Sarah’s glasses, sneakers, and socks were there, but Sarah was gone. The bay was sleeping soundly. The mother called Sarah’s mother and dialed 911. A search then started.

Sarah's Body Was Found In The Woods Several Days Later And Dechaine Was Linked To The Case

Dennis Dechaine
youtube | NEWS CENTER Maine

Several days later, Sarah Cherry's body was found hidden in a wooded area. She had been bound with rope, assaulted sexually with birch sticks, stabbed, and then strangled with a scarf.

The items left in the driveway ended up linking Dennis Dechaine, a thirty-one-year-old farmer, to the crime, such as an estimate for car repairs with his name on it. Both the rope and scarf, as well as the items in the driveway, came from Dechaine's truck.

Dechaine claimed that the items from his truck were taken by the person who actually killed the girl and were used to implicate him. Dechaine's account of that day was that he left his farm and drove to the woods to do drugs, getting lost in the process. Dechaine also lied about several things, which made him more suspicious in eyes of the police.

Dechaine Was Convicted Of Her Murder In 1989 And Has Filed Several Appeals

He was convicted of killing Sarah Cherry.
Shutterstock | 178456

The case went to trial in March 1989. On March 18, Dechaine was convicted of her murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the crimes.

Dechaine has appealed his conviction several times over the years, claiming the DNA found under Sarah Cherry's fingernails is not his, and would instead lead investigators to the girl's actual killer.

Those appeals were denied in every instance. Prosecutors said the evidence was contaminated and the rest of the evidence overwhelmingly points to Dechaine as the ma responsible for the kidnapping, assault, and murder of Sarah Cherry.

A Judge Recently Ruled Additional DNA Testing Should Be Done On The Evidence

New DNA technology could change the outcome.
Shutterstock | 1860644

But Dechaine, now 57 years old, says new testing using modern technology on clothing will identify a new suspect in the death of Sarah Cherry.

It is unclear if the clothing was tested to begin with, or if Dechaine thinks the technology available now is more advanced and could have a different outcome for the case.

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