January 22, 2022

Couple deny responsibility in 1999 death of teen

SACO – A couple who allowed a teen to stay at their home the night she was killed says they were not responsible for her.

Ashley Ouellette, 15, was found strangled on Feb. 10, 1999. The Thornton Academy sophomore was last seen alive at the home of Earl and Muriel Sanborn. The teen-ager was friends with the Sanborns’ sons, Daniel and Steven.

In their response to a civil suit filed last month by the girl’s parents, the Sanborns said they gave Ouellette permission to stay at their home after she told them her parents had kicked her out of their house.

The document, filed in York County Superior Court, says the Sanborns had no duty to call Bob and Lise Ouellette when their daughter appeared at their home that night. Ouellette herself “assumed the risk of her injuries or damages,” the Sanborns said in the document.

The Ouellettes’ suit alleges that Daniel Sanborn, now 18, assaulted Ouellette, injuring her in a way that ultimately caused her death.

Daniel Sanborn denied the allegations.

Police have not arrested anyone for Ouellette’s murder.

The Ouellettes said in their claim that the Sanborns owed Ashley, “a duty of reasonable care including a duty to provide reasonably safe premises and a duty to reasonably supervise the activities of minors … in their home.”

Ouellette had told her parents she was spending the night at a friend’s house. Investigators said she instead went to a party, and then went to the Sanborn home.

David Beneman, the Ouellettes’ lawyer, said the Sanborns’ admission that the girl was at their home that night strengthens the case.

Any reasonable parent would have called the child’s parent if she had shown up at his or her home late on a winter school night, he said.

“Being a good role model means we sometimes have to do things that are not always popular. And we should hold people accountable when they don’t,” he said.

Shortly after her death, police issued a search warrant for the Sanborns’ home. An affidavit indicated that police were concerned about the activities of Daniel.

The girl had had a sexual relationship with Daniel’s older brother, Steven. The brothers were at home the night she was killed and have been questioned by police.

Beneman has requested a jury trial. A date has not been set, but Beneman said he does not expect to go to trial until after Nov. 7, the court’s deadline for discovery.

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