Shocked Tupper Lakers mourn after apparent murder-suicide

'It’s a tragedy that has ripped a hole in the heart of our town'

(Facebook profile photos)

TUPPER LAKE — Residents here are in disbelief and distress following the early morning deaths of Jamie Martin and Stacey Ayotte.

Police say the evidence shows that Ayotte, 47, killed Martin, 34, with a rifle in the front yard of her home at 435 Hosley Ave., then turned the gun on himself.

They have two young children together but were not living together. Police said the children were not home at the time of the incident. They are currently in the care of family members.

“She was always smiling, and sweet,” said Ember Hughes, whose son is in the same pre-kindergarten class as Martin and Ayotte’s daughter. “She was a great mom. I am devastated by what happened, it breaks my heart that those babies and older sons lost their parents, that parents and siblings lost their loved ones. It’s a tragedy that has ripped a hole in the heart of our town. The school and every parent I saw today was grieving for these families.”

A co-worker of Martin at Sunmount Developmental Disabilities Services Office discovered the two bodies and called 911 at 7:25 a.m., police said. Village police were the first to arrive and performed a preliminary investigation until state police arrived. The rifle police say Ayotte used was found near his body.

From left, Tupper Lake village police Chief Eric Proulx; state police Capt. Robert LaFountain, head of the Troop B Bureau of Criminal Investigation, and Troop B Zone 3 Commander Patrick Ryan give a press conference on a driveway leading to the home of Jamie Martin, who was found dead in her yard along with Stacey Ayotte, also of Tupper Lake, with whom she had been in a relationship. (Enterprise photo — Ben Gocker)

Though state police said Martin and Ayotte had been involved in a long-term relationship, Martin’s sister said things had ended between them.

“My beautiful loving sister was not in a relationship with Mr. Ayotte,” Martin’s sister Jennifer Tice wrote in a comment she posted on a Press-Republican article online. “They haven’t been together in over a year. Please respect our privacy as we mourn the death of a daughter, sister, one hell of a great mother and a friend.”

Family members of both Martin and Ayotte declined to speak to a reporter Wednesday. A sign on the front door of Tice’s hair salon on Wawbeek Avenue read, “The Cuttin’ Room is closed today due to a family emergency. We appreciate your understanding.”

Both Ayotte and Martin were Tupper Lake natives.

“The gal’s great-grandfather was a dentist in Tupper Lake for years,” Mayor Paul Maroun said of Martin. “I knew both families, and you just feel bad for the children and for the families. I just texted my boss, (state Sen.) Betty Little, and said it’s just a real sad day in Tupper Lake. What I learned in law school is that domestic situations are the toughest to deal with. It’s a tragic day for Tupper Lake, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Martin’s friends remembered her as a gentle, positive and playful spirit.

“She was kind, compassionate, funny and loving,” said friend Jessica Cole. “She was a great mother and would do anything for anybody.”

“She loved her babies and her darts,” said friend Christine Day. “She played for our Trails End Darts team, and always had such a passion for the game.

“I always looked forward to seeing her — always smiling and so full of positive energy. This is such a tragedy.”

Friends of Martin posted glowing tributes to her on her Facebook page.

“Jamie Rose, I keep hoping that I’ll wake up from this terrible nightmare where such an amazing, strong, loving, woman is taken from all our lives way too soon,” Sarah Poulin wrote. “You were the best roommate and friend, I love you.”

On Ayotte’s page, meanwhile, some people posted reminders that his family is suffering, too.

“During this tragic time could people please just try to remember there are 2 families involved in this horrific event,” Shawn Brockey wrote on Ayotte’s page. “Nobody knows what if going through a persons mind to push them this far. Now is not a time for blame.”

“both families need the love & support of 1community right now,” Cheryl Rivers added.

Police said the investigation is in the preliminary stages and that more information will be forthcoming. Search warrants are in the process of being approved. Several searches around the property will be conducted throughout the day. There is no concern for public safety, LaFountain said.

Franklin County Coroner Shawn Stuart, of Tupper Lake, said the bodies were taken to Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake, where autopsies are scheduled for Thursday morning.

Village police, Sunmount safety officers and personnel of the state Department of Environmental Conservation are helping with the investigation, state police said.

News Editor Brittany Proulx contributed to this report.

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