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Three arrested in death of mom found in pond

A Maine woman whose body was found in a New Hampshire pond had been lured to a friend's apartment, and ambushed by two men who plotted to steal drugs and money from her, authorities said.
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

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.

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.

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.