gets life for killings at Maine B&B
By Clarke Canfield -
October 18, 2007
PARIS, Maine — A restaurant cook was sentenced to life in prison
Thursday for killing and dismembering four people during a Labor
Day weekend murder spree in western Maine last year.
"I just want
to say I'm sorry for what I did," Christian Nielsen said to the
victims' families, who filled five rows of benches in the
courtroom, before he was sentenced.
Nielsen, 32, pleaded guilty
to four counts of murder last week.
He shot James Whitehurst,
50, of Batesville, Ark., in a remote wooded area Sept. 1, 2006,
then dismembered his body and burned the remains the next day.
Whitehurst was a handyman who, like Nielsen, had been staying at
the Black Bear Bed & Breakfast in Newry.
Over the next two days,
Nielsen killed the lodge's owner, Julie Bullard, 65; her daughter,
Selby Bullard, 30; and her daughter's friend, Cindy Beatson, 43,
to cover up the murder of Whitehurst. He used a chain saw, a
hacksaw and an ax to cut the bodies in half, prosecutors said.
"When all is said and done,
Christian Nielsen has committed four of the worst criminal acts in
recent Maine history," Justice Robert Crowley said at the
sentencing hearing. Life sentences in Maine carry no chance of
Brooke Bullard, whose
stepmother and sister were killed, read a statement written by
Selby Bullard's 10-year-old son, Elliot, who now lives in
California. In the statement, which Elliot titled "How my life
changed and I was forever wounded," the boy said he couldn't
understand the violence that took his mother's and grandmother's
"They have all walked the
stairway to heaven," Bullard read. "At least there's no violence
According to a sentencing
memorandum filed by prosecutors Monday, Nielsen had no specific
motive but told investigators he had been obsessed with thoughts
of killing someone for several years and had wanted to take over
Christian Nielsen's mental
health had been a focus of his defense, and he initially pleaded
not guilty by reason of insanity. On Thursday, two forensic
physiologists testified that he was not legally insane, but that
he suffered from schizoid personality disorder, making it
difficult for him to express emotions or remorse.
Dr. Charles Robinson said
that Nielsen's motivation for the killings remains a mystery and
that the man himself is a puzzle even after talking with him
nearly 20 times.
"I feel like I do not
understand what has happened to him," Robinson said.
Nielsen's father, Charles
Nielsen, apologized for the pain his son has caused. He also asked
the judge for compassion before he turned to son and said: "I love
Maine man pleads guilty to killing 4
By David Sharp -
October 9, 2007
PARIS, Maine — A former cook pleaded guilty
Tuesday to killing four people during a bloody four-day rampage
in western Maine's ski country, but said he couldn't explain why
he did it.
Christian Nielsen, 32,
dropped his insanity defense a day before jury selection was to
begin in his trial. He faces up to life in prison when he is
sentenced Oct. 18.
The pleas spare the
victims' families a trial full of grisly details in what state
police have described as Maine's worst homicide case in more than
Juanita Whitehurst, mother
of victim James Whitehurst, expressed dismay when she left the
"He can't give me a motive
for why he killed my son. He doesn't know," said Whitehurst, who
traveled from Arkansas to attend the trial this week.
Nielsen admitted shooting
to death James Whitehurst, 50, of Batesville, Ark., on Sept. 1,
2006, before partially dismembering him and burning the remains in
woods. Whitehurst was a handyman who had been staying at the Black
Bear Bed & Breakfast in Newry, a resort town in southwestern
Prosecutor Andrew Benson
said in court Tuesday the only motive Nielsen ever gave for
killing Whitehurst was that he was "objectionable."
Over the next three days
Nielsen killed the lodge's owner, Julie Bullard, 65, her daughter,
Selby Bullard, 30, and her daughter's friend, Cindy Beatson, 43,
to cover up the killing of Whitehurst, Benson said. He used a
chain saw, hacksaw and pick ax to dismember the bodies,
The grisly murder scene was
discovered on the evening of Labor Day after Nielsen talked to his
father on the phone and told him that he was running the inn in
Julie Bullard's absence. The father and his wife dropped by and
Nielsen's handgun was found
at the inn, and he confessed to the killings to police.
Nielsen said he can't
explain why he committed the killings. He said he had discussed
his motive with his attorneys but, "We never came up with anything
Psychologists testified at
a competency hearing for Nielsen last month that he suffers from
schizoid personality disorder and possibly other mental health
problems, including Asperger's syndrome, often described as a mild
form of autism.
Nielsen's lawyers sought
unsuccessfully to suppress the confession and to have Nielsen
declared incompetent to stand trial. His guilty plea could be
withdrawn if a court later decides that he is not competent to
stand trial or that his confession is not admissible.
Defense lawyer Ron Hoffman
said he recommended that Nielsen continue with a trial using an
insanity defense in hopes of having him continue to receive
treatment at a psychiatric hospital instead of going to state
"He has a right to do what
he wants to do," Hoffman said. "We respect that."
Dianna Taylor, James
Whitehurst's sister, said she views Nielsen not as insane but as a
calculating killer that she likened to the devil.
"When I first saw him on
TV, he had this smirk on his face like 'look what I did, people,'"
she said tearfully.
Man accused of killing 4
in Maine deemed competent to stand trial
September 20, 2007
PORTLAND, Maine —
Christian Nielsen is competent to stand trial next month for a
bloody rampage in which four people were killed and dismembered
over a four-day period last year in western Maine, a judge ruled
Justice Robert Crowley concluded that the
32-year-old cook meets the legal standard for competency set by
the state supreme court. His trial on four counts of murder is set
to begin Oct. 10 in Oxford County Superior Court.
Nielsen's lawyers indicated they planned to
pursue an insanity defense, but Nielsen signaled last week that
his preference would be to plead guilty if he's ordered to stand
trial. Whether he pursues a change of plea remains to be seen.
Defense lawyers contended Nielsen was not
competent to stand trial because he's emotionally detached and
incapable of assisting in his defense.
But Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson
insisted that Nielsen has the skills necessary to aid in his
defense if he chooses to do so.
In his ruling, issued in Paris, Crowley agreed
that Nielsen's seeming disinterest is frustrating for his legal
team. But the legal standard "is whether a defendant can
cooperate, not whether he actually is cooperating," he wrote.
"While it is certainly unfair to subject a
defendant to trial when he lacks the capacity to take part in his
own defense, it is not unfair to subject him to trial when he
simply chooses not to take part," the judge concluded.
Nielsen is charged with killing three women at
the Black Bear Bed & Breakfast in Newry over Labor Day weekend in
2006. Remains of a fourth victim, an Arkansas man who was a guest
at the bed and breakfast, were found miles away near Upton.
Last week, two psychologists agreed with each
other on some of their assessments of Nielsen. But they disagreed
over whether he has the ability to assist his defense team.
Dr. Ann Leblanc of the state forensic service
said he could take a larger role in his defense if chose to do so.
Dr. Charles Robinson, a defense psychologist, concluded that
Nielsen's mental illness prevents him from engaging his lawyers.
To be found competent, Nielsen must understand
the charges against him, understand his own situation and have the
ability to cooperate with his defense lawyers in a "rational and
reasonable way," Benson said in court.
"It is a fairly straightforward ruling," Benson
said Thursday. "The judge looked at the standard set by the (state
supreme court) ... and simply concluded that the overwhelming
weight of the evidence was that Christian Nielsen has the skills
Nielsen's lawyer, Ron Hoffman, said he'll try
to get Nielsen to talk about the case, but that so far his client
won't discuss what he was thinking at the time of the murders.
"If I can't get him to talk about the plea, I'm
left with no choice but to go to trial," Hoffman told WCSH-TV.
The finding that Nielsen is competent to stand
trial doesn't prevent Nielsen from pursuing an insanity defense if
the case goes to trial as scheduled.
Though Leblanc said Nielsen meets the legal
definition of competency, she acknowledged that "he's not a
mentally healthy person at all."
Both LeBlanc and Robinson testified that
Nielsen suffers from schizoid personality disorder. Robinson also
said it's likely that Nielsen suffers from other mental problems
including Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism.
Authorities say the slayings centered on the
Black Bear Bed & Breakfast, where Nielsen was a long-term guest
while working nearby as a cook.
The first victim was James Whitehurst, 50, of
Batesville, Ark., a handyman who had been staying at the B&B and
helping out the owner, police said. Authorities said Nielsen
burned and disposed of Whitehurst's body in the woods in Upton.
Nielsen is accused of killing the Black Bear's
owner, Julie Bullard, 65, two days after that. The following day,
Labor Day, Bullard's daughter, Selby, 30, and her friend, Cindy
Beatson, 43, were killed when they arrived at the inn
Rent dispute may have
preceded Maine deaths
By Michael Levenson and Raja Mishra -
September 7, 2006
NEWRY, Maine -- Christian Nielsen, charged in
Maine's bloodiest crime in 14 years, said one day last year that
he was going to straighten out, co-workers recalled. No more
boozing, he told them. He would shelve his haphazard college
career for the strictures of the US military.
"I thought, Christian's finally finding a place
for himself," said Kristen Dorey, a waitress at the Family Fare
Restaurant in Farmington, where he cooked until he was fired.
But Nielsen's ambitions apparently went
nowhere. Instead, the 31-year-old moved several months ago to the
Black Bear Bed & Breakfast in Newry, where he met owner Julie
Bullard , her daughter Selby, and live-in handyman James
Whitehurst. Over Labor Day weekend, say police, he killed all
three, as well as Selby Bullard's close friend, Cynthia Beatson.
The three women were dismembered and left in
bloody heaps outside the Black Bear, alongside three dogs Nielsen
killed, according to police. Whitehurst's body was found burned
and left in the woods in Upton, about 15 miles away.
Whitehurst was killed on Friday, and Julie
Bullard on Sunday; Selby Bullard and Beatson were killed Monday,
Nielsen showed up nonchalantly for work Sunday
night, on time for his line-cook shift at the Sudbury Inn in
Bethel, according to his boss.
Friends of the victims said Nielsen may have
been involved in a dispute over payment for his room at the bed
and breakfast, where he lived for the past few months.
Marcia Thomas, a San Francisco real estate
agent and close friend of Julie Bullard's, said she had recently
decided to sell the Black Bear and move to New York City with
another daughter because she found it tough to survive financially
running a bed and breakfast in Maine. She rented a room to Nielsen
to help make ends meet, Thomas said.
"She loved Maine and she felt very safe in
Maine and she really didn't want to leave, but for economic
reasons she was going to sell the B&B and share a house her
daughter had just bought in Brooklyn," said Thomas.
Police refused to comment on a possible motive.
Nielsen's father, Charles Nielsen, visited him
yesterday at Oxford County Jail, where he is being held without
bail. Nielsen smirked through a court hearing on Tuesday, but his
lawyer sought to dispel notions that he took his situation
"I can assure you he's not amused. He's not
been speaking to me in a light banter," said attorney Ron Hoffman,
who refused to discuss details of their jailhouse conversation
Interviews yesterday with several people who
know Nielsen portrayed a man given to mood swings who lived a
somewhat aimless life, but seemed harmless.
Nielsen studied English at the University of
Maine at Farmington, following in the footsteps of his father, who
teaches English at Dirigo High School in Dixfield, Maine. He
completed a semester in 2001, then attended during summer and fall
of 2003, spring of 2004, and spring and fall last year. He did not
earn a degree, the university said.
Kenny Bachner, owner of Devaney Doak & Garrett
Booksellers in Farmington, said Nielsen, a frequent customer over
six years, had an unpredictable personality, sometimes appearing
"very earnest," while "very closed off" on other occasions. He
called Nielsen "very bright" and said he favored classic
literature and comedy books. But he was no closet radical or
extremist, said Bachner.
"I'd be very surprised if any of this had
anything to do with any cohesive ideology," he said. "He had weird
stuff going on in his head that most of us can't imagine."
At the Black Bear Bed & Breakfast yesterday,
police continued forensics work at the crime scene. In a wooded
area in Upton, authorities worked to remove Whitehurst's burned
remains from its shallow grave.
In Newry, a small cluster of inns near western
Maine's ski resorts, and its neighboring town, Bethel, friends and
acquaintances of the victims speculated about the suspect's
motives even as they grieved over the victims.
Julie Bullard, 65, had relocated to Maine from
San Francisco, and added her own eclectic design touches to the
Black Bear, said Robin Zinchuk, executive director of the Bethel
Area Chamber of Commerce.
Over the summer, Julie Bullard offered
Whitehurst, 50, of Batesville, Ark., a free room in exchange for
his services as handyman, said Zinchuk. Bullard and Whitehurst may
have been engaged in an effort to evict Nielsen after he failed to
pay for his stay at the Black Bear, she said.
Selby Bullard, 30, and Beatson, 43, were killed
when they went to check up on Julie Bullard, police said.
Bonita Sessions, who employed both women at
Apple Tree Realty office in Bethel, said Selby Bullard "was always
smiling" and Beatson was "so beautiful and animated."
"They'll be sadly missed by everyone," said
Sessions. "There will be a hole in everyone's heart."
Suspect arrested in quadruple
slayings near Maine ski resort
By Gregory D. Kesich - Portland Press Herald
September 6, 2006
NEWRY, Maine - A 31-year-old cook is accused of
killing and dismembering a bed and breakfast owner and two other
women outside the converted farmhouse and burned the body of a
fourth victim before dumping the remains in the woods in a
neighboring town, officials said today.
The suspect told detectives that his four-day
killing spree began with a local man on Friday and continued two
days later with the death of the owner of the bed and breakfast
where he was staying in Newry, according to a state police
affidavit. Newry is near the New Hampshire line, about 75 miles
northwest of Portland.
The daughter of the bed and breakfast owner and
a friend were killed when they arrived there unexpectedly on Labor
Day, the affidavit said.
Col. Craig Poulin, state police chief, painted
the picture of a grisly crime with three women who'd been shot and
dismembered. The fourth victim's body was burned, dismembered and
his remains were dumped in the woods 10 to 15 miles away in Upton.
"It's a crime of horrific proportions," Poulin
told reporters at a news conference. He said it was the "worst
homicide in Maine in 14 years."
The bodies of the three women were recovered
Monday evening, and detectives were still working today to recover
the remains of the man.
The suspect, who was charged with four counts
of murder, smiled as he was leaving Oxford County Superior Court,
where he was ordered held without bail.
"The police didn't get involved until Monday,"
said Deputy Attorney General William Stokes. "How it happened,
when it happened and why it happened is still unclear."
Stokes said investigators worked throughout the
night and still have questions about the sequence of events.
The suspect was working at the Sudbury Inn in
Bethel and rented a room at the Black Bear Bed and Breakfast,
owned by Julie Bullard. Police believe that the suspect killed
James Whitehurst, 50, and left his body in Upton.
The owner of Sudbury Inn said he worked his
shift in the kitchen Sunday, getting off work in the late evening.
Sometime the same day, he killed Bullard, Stokes said.
Bullard's daughter, Selby Bullard, 30, became
concerned when she couldn't reach her mother by cell phone.
She drove to Newry with her friend Cynthia
Beatson, 42, on Monday, said Benita Sessions, who runs the Apple
Tree Realty Office in Bethel, where the two women worked.
"Julie had bad asthma, she would get into these
coughing fits," Sessions said. "Selby couldn't reach her by phone
so she and Cindy drove out her to check on her."
Stokes said Bullard and Beatson were killed
when they came to the Black Bear.
The state police crime scene evidence recovery
team scoured the grounds by the white inn with maroon shutters off
Monkey Brook Road, looking for evidence outside the house and
behind an outdoor swimming pool.
Little is known about Whitehurst, Stokes said.
Authorities have not been able to reach his next of kin late this
morning. Julie and Selby Bullard had moved to Maine from San
Francisco, sometime in the last two years, Sessions said.
Selby Bullard had two children and had been
selling real estate for about a year.
Beatson grew up in the Bethel area and had
worked as a waitress and a seamstress before she started selling
She was married to Dough Beatson, a local
contractor, and they had one child.
Sessions said the two women were best friends
and went everywhere together.
It's unclear what sparked the killings. State
Police Sgt. Walter Grzyb said the two men did not know each other
beyond the fact that they were both staying at the same inn.
Poulin declined to discuss motive. He said all
had been shot and all four had been dismembered. He declined to
say how they'd been dismembered.
News swept across the communities in Maine's
''We're all just numb with shock,'' said Robin
Zinchuk, executive director of the Bethel Area Chamber of
Police assured residents they had nothing to
fear. ''We believe no one else was involved, and there are no
additional victims,'' Poulin said.
Police were called to the Black Bear Bed &
Breakfast at a time when many vacationers were streaming out of
Maine at the close of the Labor Day weekend.
Nielson grew up in the Oxford County area, but
lived in Farmington for several years. According to Farmington
police, Nielsen had a record of mostly traffic-related violations,
including a 1998 arrest and conviction for drunken driving.
"The name didn't jump out as somebody that we
knew," said Police Chief Richard Caton III.
His last brush with Farmington police was in
August 2005, when he was issued a summons for driving after
suspension. At the time Nielsen listed his residence as a 5-unit
apartment building in downtown Farmington, near the University of
Nancy White, proprietor of the Sudbury Inn, was
stunned to hear about the allegations against Nielsen.
"He was a reliable employee, a competent cook
and a soft spoken individual," she said. "I'm shocked and stunned
and appalled. It's horrible."
The phone rang unanswered Tuesday at the Black
Bear, a white clapboard farmhouse with a red roof that was
converted into a six-room bed-and-breakfast with a pool and tennis
Julie Bullard operated a bed and breakfast in
San Francisco that she sold prior to coming to Bethel area with
her daughter to operate the Black Bear, Zinchuk said.
"Her daughter, Selby, had just lost her husband
in a car crash and I think in some ways she and Selby were doing
something together, getting a fresh start, with Selby's two
children," Zinchuk said.
For a time, Selby Bullard operated an
optician's shop in town that filled eyeglass prescriptions,
Zinchuk said. More recently, she received a real estate license
and had been working with Beatson at Apple Tree Realty Inc., she
Julie Bullard decided in February to close the
Black Bear, Zinchuk said, and there was a ''For Sale'' sign out
The Associated Press, staff writers Tom Bell,
David Hench and Trevor Maxwell contributed to this report.
Maine bed and breakfast slayings a shock
By Shelby Bullard -
September 6, 2006
NEWRY, Maine (AP) — Julie Bullard and her
daughter, Selby, tried to put tragedy behind them when they moved
from California to Maine to run a bed and breakfast here. It was
to be a fresh start after Selby Bullard's husband died in a car
Now, both are dead, and a
man who lived as a guest in their inn was charged Tuesday with
killing them and two others in Maine's biggest homicide case in
more than a decade.
The carnage at the
130-year-old converted farmhouse on a dead-end road unfolded over
the Labor Day weekend and prompted State Police Chief Col. Craig
Poulin to call it "a crime of horrific proportions."
Police said Christian
Nielsen, 31, who had worked as a cook in an inn's kitchen in
neighboring Bethel, offered no resistance when he was arrested on
four murder charges.
Poulin said the
investigation was too new to comment on a motive, but added, "We
believe no one else was involved and there are no additional
Nielsen, who had been
living at the Black Bear Bed & Breakfast for a couple of months,
told police that his first victim on Friday was James Whitehurst,
50, of Batesville, Ark., whose remains were burned and discarded
in the nearby town of Upton, authorities said.
Inn owner Julie Bullard,
65, was killed Sunday, police said. The following day, her
daughter Selby and Cynthia Beatson, 43, were also killed when they
arrived at the inn unexpectedly, a state police affidavit said.
All three women were dismembered.
State police were alerted
to the carnage Monday evening by Bullard family members who
arrived at inn to find a woman's body and blood outside. Nielsen's
father told troopers that he thought his son had committed the
killing, according to prosecutors.
Nielsen, questioned by
detectives Monday night, admitted killing all four people, the
affidavit said. He then led a detective to Upton, where Nielsen
said he had disposed of Whitehurst's body, the document said.
Whitehurst, described as a
handyman who was helping out Julie Bullard, had been staying in
the inn, a white clapboard farmhouse with a red metal roof, while
he was in the area.
Julie Bullard had purchased
the building, which had been converted into a bed and breakfast
with a pool and tennis court, after moving to Maine two years ago.
She had operated a bed and breakfast in San Francisco that she
sold prior to coming to the area, a magnet for skiers and other
"Her daughter, Selby, had
just lost her husband in a car crash and I think in some ways she
and Selby were doing something together, getting a fresh start,"
said Robin Zinchuk, executive director of the Bethel Area Chamber
Julie Bullard decided in
February to close the Black Bear, Zinchuk said, and there was a
"For Sale" sign out front. Selby Bullard had recently been working
part-time with Beatson at Apple Tree Realty Inc.
As news of the murders
spread Tuesday, people in the community reacted with shock and
horror. Newry is near western Maine's border with New Hampshire
and about 75 miles northwest of Portland.
"The whole thing is
surreal. It's a shock to this small community," said Nancy White,
co-owner of the Sudbury Inn, where Nielsen worked. White described
him as a reliable employee, a good cook and "soft-spoken, quiet
Police stressed that the
string of killings, unusual in a state with a low crime rate, was
over. Nielsen knew at least two of the victims — Whitehurst and
the older Bullard — and "probably" knew all four, Poulin said.
Nielsen, who formerly lived
and worked in Farmington in western Maine, had a history of
driving offenses that included an arrest for drunken driving, but
nothing more serious, Farmington police said. His license was
revoked a year ago, said Farmington Lt. Jack Peck.
Nielsen was ordered held
without bail. He appeared in court Tuesday wearing an orange
jumpsuit and bulletproof vest. Nielsen uttered only two words in
court: "I am," when the judge asked if he was present. He appeared
calm and smiled as he was brought into and left the courtroom.
Maine police investigate an apparent
By Andrew Ryan - Boston.com
September 5, 2006
Police today are unraveling a murder spree in
Western Maine that appears to have begun with the murder of a man
on Friday and claimed the lives of a three women – including a
mother and daughter – at a bed and breakfast over Labor Day
weekend as authorities say the killer tried to cover up his first
The mother and daughter and the body of another
woman were discovered Monday at the Black Bear Bed and Breakfast
in Newry, about 70 miles west of Augusta in a popular ski region
along the New Hampshire border. Investigators discovered what is
believed to be the body of the male victim in a wooded area 10 to
15 miles north in Upton.
Christian C. Nielsen, 31, has been charged with
four counts of murder. He was taken into custody Monday night
after police received a 911 call from the bed and breakfast at
about 5:30, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Nielsen lived in a converted farmhouse behind
the bed and breakfast and has been blamed for the deaths of his
landlady, her daughter, a friend of her daughter and a 50-year-old
man. Officials are still piecing together the details from the
bloody weekend and plan to hold a press conference this afternoon
at the Newry Fire Department.
On Friday, prosecutors allege that Nielsen
killed a man named James Whitehurst, 50, according to William
Stokes, chief of the criminal division of the Maine attorney
Investigators would not discuss what they
believe motivated Nielsen to kill Whitehurst. His body was the
last to be found when investigators discovered it late Monday in
woods in Upton, north of Grafton Notch State Park.
"Teams are gong in this morning to hopefully
excavate the remains," state Department of Public Safety spokesman
Steve McCausland, declining to give more specifics.
Nielsen, who had worked as a cook at the
Sudbury Inn in nearby Bethel, had been staying at the Black Bear
Bed and Breakfast owned by Julie Bullard, 65, according to Stokes
and police. As suspicion mounted about the disappearance of
Whitehurst, Nielsen continued killing to eliminate witnesses,
On Sunday, prosecutors allege that Nielsen
killed Bullard at the her bed and breakfast. Her disappearance
aroused more suspicion and on Monday the slayings continued,
Prosecutors allege that when Bullard’s
daughter, Selby Bullard, 30, and a friend, Cynthia Beatson, 43,
came to check on Bullard on Monday, Nielsen killed them too,
Stokes said. Investigators declined to say how prosecutors allege
that Nielsen killed his victims.
Nielsen was taken into custody Monday night
after police found the women’s bodies at the bed and breakfast. He
is being held in the Oxford County Jail.
Nancy White, the co-owner of the Sudbury Inn,
told the Associated Press that Nielsen had been hired as a cook
"This is a surprise to me," White said. "He's a
reliable, soft-spoken employee who has cooked with us since late