Image: Krista Dittmeyer
TODAY
Krista Dittmeyer's car was found idling with her 14-month-old daughter inside.
msnbc.com news services
updated 5/12/2011 6:02:56 AM ET 2011-05-12T10:02:56

Three New Hampshire men have been arrested in connection with the death of a Maine woman who disappeared, leaving her toddler inside her abandoned idling car last month, authorities said on Wednesday.

The body of Krista Dittmeyer, 20, was discovered in a pond near the Cranmore Mountain ski area four days after she went missing.

Anthony Papile, 28, has been charged with second degree murder and Trevor Ferguson, 23, and Michael Petelis, 28, were each charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, the New Hampshire Attorney General's office said.

Dittmeyer's body was pulled out of a pond on April 27 near the ski resort's parking lot where her black Nissan Sentra had been found, idling with its flashers on and her 14-month-old child inside.

Story: Body of missing NH mom found in pond

In a criminal complaint and in court Wednesday, investigators and prosecutors outlined a plot by Papile and Petelis to ambush the 20-year-old Portland woman to steal drugs and money from her. The officials said:

Dittmeyer was lured to Petelis' Ossipee home on April 22. Soon after she arrived around 9:45 p.m., Papile ambushed her as she climbed the stairs to the apartment, striking her on the head with a rubber club.

Papile and Petelis bound her with duct tape and put her in the trunk of her own car. Papile drove Dittmeyer's car to the Cranmore Mountain ski area parking lot and put Dittmeyer in the pond.

Ferguson agreed to give Papile a ride to his home from the ski area in exchange for money and drugs.

Prosecutors would not say Wednesday whether Dittmeyer was alive when she was submerged in the pond.

$250,000 bail
Papile, Petelis and Ferguson were not required to enter pleas Wednesday. Each was represented by a court-appointed attorney who didn't speak to the media.

Papile was ordered held without bail, while Petelis and Ferguson were held on $250,000 bail.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Jane Young told the judge Petelis was a friend of Dittmeyer's who told others he was her "protector" while her boyfriend — the father of her daughter — was serving an 18-month sentence in Maine for cocaine trafficking.

Young said Petelis lured her to the apartment "and was setting up her final demise."

"If he can do this to his friend and woman he vowed to protect, what could he do to anyone else?" Young stated, in arguing for a $250,000 bond.

Dittmeyer's daughter is now being cared for by her grandmother.

Superior Court Judge Robert C. Varney cited the "heinous nature of the crime" in holding Papile without bond. He scheduled probable cause hearings for all three May 19.

Video: Mother, sister of missing mom speak out (on this page)

Young said the Dittmeyer family learned of the arrests and allegations just hours before Wednesday's arraignments and said they were "pretty distressed." She conveyed the family's requests that media not contact them.

Dittmeyer's mother, LaNell Shackley, sat in court with other family members and friends, her body visibly shaking and heaving as each of the defendants were brought into court.

Young would not say whether Dittmeyer was weighted down or otherwise held under the water. The complaint against Papile states that he showed "extreme indifference to the value of human life by suffocating and/or drowning her."

The prosecutor also would not comment on the type of drugs involved or the amount of cash and drugs allegedly taken from Dittmeyer.

Young said the investigation was ongoing, and she did not rule out additional charges.

Dittmeyer grew up in Bridgton, Maine, about 25 miles from Conway. She moved to Portland shortly after her 2008 high school graduation and had been working as a waitress at a South Portland restaurant, a relative said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Mother, sister of missing mom speak out

  1. Closed captioning of: Mother, sister of missing mom speak out

    >> krista's mother and sister are with us now exclusively along with a family friend, kathy pratt. good morning.

    >> good morning.

    >> let me ask you. we heard the law enforcement official in amy's piece say they are making progress. have they informed you of what progress they are making?

    >> no, not at this -- well, they have been keeping me updated. but they are only limited on what they can tell me.

    >> i know you last spoke to krista friday. she was driving at the time. did she tell you where she was going, who she was going to see? any pertinent information like that?

    >> i talked to her friday night. i didn't ask her if she was driving or whatever. but we were just a quick conversation. she was expecting something in the mail at my house. i told her she didn't get it. it was just brief. she was normal. i would see her on easter sunday.

    >> what about in the days prior to that? kayla, did you notice a change in your sister? was she under any extra stress? did she talk about pressures in her life? anything like that?

    >> no. i never noticed anything at all. she never talked to me. she always seemed happy. i talked to her that morning because my birthday was the day before, thursday the 21st. i talked to her the next morning and nothing seemed out of the ordinary at all.

    >> did she talk to any of you about being afraid of anyone? was someone angry at her, someone jealous of her?

    >> no, nothing at all. i don't believe she had anybody that had a vendetta against her. she's lovable, outgoing. i have asked her friends. they tell me the same thing. they don't know who would want to hurt her.

    >> when you think about the circumstances surrounding the discovery of her car. it's in a ski resort parking lot running, the door is ajar, her baby in the back seat and the lights are flashing. when you add up the pieces what comes to mind? what do you think happened?

    >> obviously somebody wanted to attract attention to the car. i don't know if krista was in the car at that point. we really don't know if she was and she wanted her baby to be found and she knew she'd be taken care of.

    >> i have to ask you about the father of the baby. we just identified him as kyle acker, the former boyfriend of your daughter. they lived together until january when he was sent to prison. do you think though he physically could not have been at that location at that time might he have anything to do with this?

    >> i don't have any comments about him at this time. i would like to focus more on finding my daughter.

    >> tell me about your granddaughter. she's staying with you now, i understand. how is she doing?

    >> she's doing well. she has her moments like any 14-month-old baby would do. she's got restless nights. she sleeps with my daughter every night. she definitely misses her. she's been crying at nighttime and very clingy to me, very confused. all these people are around she's not familiar with. daytime she's happy. nights, she's having a hard time .

    >> i know you wanted the opportunity to make a plea to anyone holding your daughter or who may know where your daughter is. what would you like to say?

    >> first, i would like to say, krista , i know you're out there. i love you. aliyah loves you, your sister and your family loves you. we want you home. whoever has her, drop her off wherever. just let her be found, please. let her be found.

    >> ladies, thank you all. we'll keep following the story.

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