January 6, 1983 was a cold Thursday in the small town of Fayette, Maine. It was just a few days into the new year, and Maine’s temperatures hovered below freezing. The 800 residents of the town were slowly beginning their recovery from holiday festivities with friends and family across Maine and beyond, and settling back into their work schedules after some deserved time off.
That evening, Ted Flagg was returning home to his wife, Judith Flagg, and their one year old son. He had worked a double shift, a long sixteen hours, at one of the mills in the area. Today, most of these mills are closed, but driving by the river that used to power the cogs of huge machines you can still see the bones of the sites remaining.
Working long hours at the mill was part of Ted Flagg’s typical routine, and he looked forward to coming home to his family each night. But when he returned home on that cold day in January, Ted was not warmly greeted by his wife as usual. Instead, he found his 23-year old wife dead.
Evidence was scattered across the house. Boot prints in the freshly fallen snow. Suspicion was cast and stories were perpetuated throughout the small town of Fayette, but it would take over two decades to bring this cold case to a close.
About Judy Flagg
Judith L. Dion Flagg, better known as Judy, was born near Fayette, Maine in January of 1960. In the winter of 1983, she had just turned twenty-three years old. Judy spent her childhood, formative years, and all of her young adult life living in the Fayette area, about a half hour drive west of Augusta, Maine’s capital city. During her teenage years, Judy had attended the local high school, Jay High School, and had successfully graduated in 1978.
According to Judy’s high school yearbook, she was very involved in her school community. She participated in multiple clubs and athletic groups during her time in high school, including the Field Hockey Team, the Ski Team, and the Cheer Team. Judy even served on the Prom Committee. In her yearbook, she shared that she hoped to work in the Data Processing Field in the future.
In 1979, just over a year after graduating from Jay High School, Judy Dion married a young man named Theodore Flagg, better known as Ted. Ted was born in June of 1958, making him just a couple years older than Judy. He was also from the Fayette area, and had grown up in the neighboring town of Livermore Falls. Judy and Ted met and fell in love while still teenagers.
After marrying, the two had a son together and purchased a small home from the local Mitchell family. They settled into the converted blue farmhouse in a quiet, wooded area and began to make a home and a life together in the small town of Fayette.
Ted spent his days working at a paper mill in the area while Judy stayed home with the baby. The two felt comfortable staying in Fayette, near their families. Judy was close with her mother and father, Pauline and Alex, as well as her sister Doreen and her brother David. Although she had moved out of her parents house and begun a family of her own, Judy made sure to talk to and visit her family often.
In the early 1980s, Judy and Ted were just two of Fayette’s 800 residents. Fayette was founded in the late eighteenth century, long before Maine was even officially a state. The insular community has stayed small. According to the 2020 Census, the population today hovers just over 1,100 people.
This small town was and is the kind of place where everyone knew one another. People felt safe in their homes knowing that Fayette was the type of town where crime was a rarity, and citizens of the area never locked their doors. The mills and homes of town residents are nestled in the rolling hills of farms in the rural landscape of central Maine, surrounded by cows grazing in fields, forests that are home to summer camps and cabins, and acres of apple orchards.
To this day, residents of the Fayette area work primarily at local convenience stores and grocery stores, elementary and high schools, or in agricultural pursuits. Many of the roads to the houses are one lane or only partially paved. Although the majority of the town’s mills have closed, the memories of the buildings still remain, influencing the culture of the town to this day.
In 1983, however, the manufacturing pursuits of the Fayette and Livermore Falls mills were alive and well. According to a 1983 piece in the Bangor Daily News, employment at the mills was an extremely common occupation for the men of the area. A significant number of the married men in Fayette were employed at the paper mills, and often worked night shifts, leaving their wives and children safe in their homes while they worked, as was routine for Judy’s husband Ted.
On the last day of Judy’s life, Ted had a double shift, spending more than sixteen hours away from home. That morning, he said goodbye to his wife and son believing that he would be coming home to them that evening. Ted didn’t know that he was kissing his wife for the last time.
Episode Source Material
- Annual Report : Town of Fayette, Year Ending June 30, 1983.
- Flagg family seeks closure (September 10, 2006). Lindsay Tice, Sun Journal.
- Inmate charged in ’83 Maine murdera; DNA evidence said to link him to woman’s slaying (January 21, 2007). Associated Press, Boston Globe.
- Judge denies man’s bid for new trial citing DNA errors (August 31, 2017). AP News.
- Judith L. Dion Flagg (2022). Find A Grave.
- Maine jury returns guilty verdict in 1983 murder (June 23, 2009). Associated Press, Bangor Daily News.
- Man convicted in 1983 Fayette murder denied bid for a new trial (January 29, 2018). Betty Adams, Kennebec Journal.
- Murder suspect enters no plea (September 29, 2006). Donna M. Perry, Sun Journal.
- Murder trial for 1983 Fayette stabbing begins today in Farmington (June 16, 2009). Ben Hanstein, Daily Bulldog.
- No New Trial for Man Serving Life Sentence for Killing Teenager in Fayette (September 1, 2017). Associated Press, WABI.
- Slaying shocks quiet town (January 13, 1983). Associated Press, The Bangor Daily News.
- State v. Mitchell, 4 A.3d 478, 2010 Me. 73 (Me. 2010).
- State of Maine v. Thomas Mitchell, Order on Motions to Suppress.