Jessica was the quintessential small-town girl. Quiet, timid, friendly and respectful. She wanted to live her life, have a family and grow old with someone special. But unfortunately, her dreams were seemingly cut short in August 1996. This is part 2 of Jessica Estabrooks’ story.
Suppose you haven’t read part 1 of Jessica Estabrooks’ story. In that case, I suggest you go back and read that article first before reading this one. To give you a brief overview of where we left off, Jessica Estabrooks, a shy, quiet, and happy young woman of 20, was living in the city with her fiancé, Shane Linthorne. Both Shane and Jessica worked at Domino’s pizza, a short walk from their apartment. Jessica had also recently started working at Burger King, a 4-minute walk down the street from the pizzeria. On Friday, August 23rd, Jessica and Shane worked an overcast but warm summer day. Jessica left in her one and only burger king uniform to start work at 3:30 pm.
Shane left a little later; he worked deliveries for Dominos that evening until around 3:00 am. Jessica finished her training shift at burger king and stopped at Domino’s Pizza to speak to Shane before heading home. She left the pizzeria between 7:30 pm and 7:45 pm. She was seen walking home on Killam drive between 7:45 pm and 8:00 pm. She did make it to her apartment, changed out of her uniform, neatly folded it and placed it on the kitchen table. Shane said he arrived around approximately 4:00 am. All the lights were off; he stayed up and watched TV until 5:30 am and then went to bed when he noticed Jessica wasn’t there. Jessica was very timid and nervous about living in the city and would not have left her apartment on her own. He did not call anyone at this time, allegedly slept, and then called Jessica’s mother later that morning at 11:30 am. Jessica’s mother conducted a door-to-door search, and then she called the police to file a missing person’s report. Her fiancé did not file it. Approximately two months later, her partial remains, her skull, and lower jaw were found on Beaumont’s grassy dikes along the Petitcodiac River. A river is known for its tidal bores. The river runs down from the city to join the Bay of Fundy. You can drive several scenic routes along the Petitcodiac to Jessica’s hometown of Dorchester.
The RCMP were called in as her remains were found within their investigative jurisdiction. Her remains were removed before the remains and area could be reviewed by a forensic anthropologist or medical examiner. Her remains were confirmed via dental records. Her remains were sent to the Centre for forensic sciences in Toronto. After careful analysis, it was determined that her death was caused by murder. Her method of death was never revealed. A joint investigation was underway between the RCMP and the Moncton police, with the RCMP leaving the homicide investigation. There was an 11-month period between when Jessica’s partial remains were found and the initial arrest and release of her fiancé. During those 11 months, Shane indicated that the RCMP never once interviewed him but that he thought he was maybe a suspect because he had a small life insurance policy on Jessica, which he never received a payout on because the cops wouldn’t let the insurance company pay. But was there maybe another reason, other than what he said, why he thought he could be a suspect, likely the one and only suspect for Jessica’s Murder?
For this episode, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to both previous owners, Dawn & Tony, of the Domino’s pizza, where Shane and Jessica both worked. At the time, Dawn and Tony had younger children at home, and Jessica would often care for them to earn additional funds. She was their babysitter. Remember when Jessica told her dad that she wasn’t babysitting anymore and was looking for another job? Yes, this couple knew Jessica and Shane more than a passing stranger.
I’ve asked Dawn how she and Tony knew Jessica.
“Jessica worked for me at Domino’s pizza. So, my husband and I owned Domino’s and she also babysat our children. We had her making our dough. We made our dough every day. She had been there for a while. I think she actually left our store and went to work at Burger King from working with us.”
I’ve asked Dawn and Tony separately to let me know a little about Jessica.
“She was such a sweet girl. She was really special. She was very quiet and very shy, but she was just so loving and kind.” – Dawn.
“She would have made someone a very nice wife because she was just a wonderful girl, and it’s just a shame that she never got to live her life out and her family never got to see it. People would love to have her as a daughter-in-law. It’s just a shame. There’s just something that stinks about the whole thing, that’s all.” – Tony.
Dawn was in Halifax, and Tony worked at Dominos the day Jessica went missing. He was in the pizzeria when Jessica stopped in to speak to her fiancé. Tony would be one of the last people to see her alive. I’ve asked Tony to let me know about that encounter, and I’ve asked Dawn what her reaction was when she found out that weekend that Jessica was missing.
“I was principally one of the last people to see Jessica that day. From my memory, I believe it was a Friday in the afternoon. She had just come back from Burger King. It was her second training period, which was for a very short time; she had just started there. She had worked at Dominos for numerous months, if not a year, Making dough for us. We used to make our own dough in the back of the store, and that’s what Jessica would do. Her boyfriend was a manager at the time when she went missing. And they both worked together at the time. She primarily worked at Dominos. She was just leaving Dominos because she had gotten this job at Burger King. It would be more hours because making the dough was just a part-time proposition, only a few hours a week. So, she was looking for something more stable with more hours, because rumour has it, she might have been pregnant, and I think that goes into the whole situation too. But this is all just hearsay, as far as I can say, in-store talk, “Jessica’s pregnant; we’re going to find out if she is or not.” Then, she went missing.
When she left, from what I remember, she was smiling. She had chuckled that I had made a joke about her new shoes, and she kind of chuckled. She was very…She wouldn’t say shit if she had her mouth full of it. She was one of the most quietest people, so unassuming; you know what I mean? She was just like a Churchmouse.
Yea, I was one of the last people to see her, and no, there was no inclination, there were no arguments, it was just a normal Friday sunny afternoon. It was just getting busy, and she was just heading home.” – Tony.
“She had babysat my daughter overnight for the weekend prior to the weekend or the week that she had gone missing. I was away the weekend that she had gone missing, in Halifax. And, I remember my husband at the time call me saying, “Oh my God, Jessica is missing!” and my instinctive first words were, “Oh my God, Shane killed her.” I can’t tell you what made me say it, but it’s just something that I felt. It’s just, there was something off with Shane…I can’t tell you. I know the police asked me the same thing.” – Dawn.
Both Dawn and Tony described Jessica’s fiancé as “off” I’ve asked them to elaborate on that a little further and explain his behaviour following Jessica’s disappearance.
“He was a good-looking big guy and very personable, but you know how you have a feeling about somebody that they are just a bit off. There is just something about them that’s just a little upset. You know, nice guy, says the right things and all, but there is just something there that you can’t put your finger on. So you just think, “Oh well…” and you just sort of let it go. And that’s what Shane, to me, was about. You could never really say to anybody….I mean, you would say he was a nice guy, but you wouldn’t want him going out with your daughter.
No, he didn’t show any emotions, really; I don’t think I ever saw him cry or anything. He’s just that type of guy, like just a cold type of person. He has no sense of humour; he might fake a laugh and smile like that. He’s just a strange individual. People would ask me, “Why didn’t you fire him when you thought he was (involved)?” How could I fire him? It was all subjective, like, hearsay on my part, and I’m not a cop; I can’t go fire a guy because I think he’s a murderer. I have no basis for doing that, just on a feeling. I mean, everyone has feelings. If we ran the world on feelings, it would be a mess, you know?” – Tony.
“It was his actions after that whole thing. He worked with me, I believe, every Friday night, and we would close at 3 am. So, we spent a lot of time together. I can remember two of his friends, I can’t remember their names now, but it was a boyfriend and girlfriend. I think her name may have been Dawn. I would remember if I knew their names; right now, I can’t remember. But, they came in every Friday night after midnight, and they would always be talking and laughing. This was probably maybe a month after she went missing and she had been on the front page of the paper. And they were all laughing and joking about the photo. I can remember feeling really sick to my stomach about it. Just his demeanour in the way he presented himself; there was no…Like he’s obviously a psychopath or something. It was just weird; it was cold, it was a chilly feeling, it was just off.” – Dawn.
Both Dawn and Tony described Jessica and Shane as having another couple as friends, and both of them described these friends as strange. And that it would appear that the relationship between Jessica’s fiancé and this other couple seemed closer than regular friends. After Jessica disappeared and was later known to have been murdered, it was business as usual for the throuple.
In our conversation, strange friends aside, Tony indicated that he didn’t believe the Moncton police even interviewed people who worked that night at Dominos. Also, they never asked about potential CCTV. They didn’t have any at the store, but they never asked about it either. It wouldn’t be until a while after her remains were found that the RCMP would ask for work schedules for the evening Jessica went missing.
“Moncton Police never interviewed me. Outside of maybe because I was in the store when they came in, no, no, they never interviewed me. They didn’t want to hear anything from…I wasn’t a suspect; I was nothing. I was just a guy that owned the store and the manager at the time. And the whole thing was that she worked at Burger King, and she happened to be at Dominos, well, it was the opposite. She worked at Dominos and just happened to have 1 or 2 shifts at Burger King as a trainee. But, for some reason… You know, that’s what gets me. It sounds like a small thing, but if you can’t even get that straight, how are you going to get the other things straight? If you can’t even get straight where she worked, where her primary workplace was, which you can find out in a flash, how are you going to find out other stuff or any of the small details straight, let alone the bigger details straight? I mean, I don’t know. You know, when she was missing, I could have told them, “take a drive along the fucking Petitcodiac river.” That’s where they always used to drive all the time. But she got washed up, or animals dragged it, they don’t know, because the RCMP messed up too. You know classic “don’t move the body,” every layperson knows this, but the RCMP didn’t know that?” – Tony.
“I think what happened was we had gone through all the records because he (Shane) was delivering that night, and every time you clocked in from a delivery and left the store with a delivery, you had to go on the computer, and I think he was active all night. So, I think what they figured out was, it would have had to have been after he left for the evening. The story that I heard was they had been; I know that they had been fighting. They were always arguing, and I think that she was pregnant, and that’s when it really escalated within that week or so. But I think, from what I remember, was that he was in and out of the store all night. It would have been really hard for him to have left from 8 pm until after midnight.” -Dawn.
I’ve asked Tony if he thought Jessica would have left the apartment on her own that evening and what his theory is on what happened to Jessica.
“No, she would, no. On a scale of 1-10 being adventurous, I would put her at 1. She was like the church mouse kind of girl; you know what I mean? She was just a very inoffensive, very nice, quiet, quiet girl and timid. I can’t see her living or doing anything on her own. At Dominos that night, I was the manager, and Shane would have been driving. We usually worked until 3 am, probably until 3:30 am. A lot of the time, they (Shane & Jessica) would go for a drive. They were from the Dorchester area, which is a little community about 20 minutes outside of town. A nice little drive along the Petitcodiac River. They used to do that a lot because you wind down after work. You work a 10-12 hour day until 3 am, so you go for a little drive.
I think they went for a drive, and she told him she was pregnant (confirmed), he freaked out or whatever, and she ended up dying. He left her body somewhere between town and Dorchester and came back and concocted whatever story and went with the flow. Sure enough, they found her body, not right where I thought it would be, but you know, in the general drive area. It was found on the Petitcodiac River. There is a whole beautiful, nice little….you can go the back way through Memramcook along the Petitcodiac River, very scenic, very nice. It’s normal when you work a late night for delivery… A lot of my delivery drivers or I would go for a drive or something after work, you know to unwind. That’s what they used to do, is go for a drive, and that’s why in my mind, it happened out there, and that’s where they were going to find her body, and sure enough, they did. They would go for drives down that way; that’s the area they knew, where they grew up, where they were both from, Dorchester/Sackville area. So that was my first conclusion, that he got off work he went and saw her, and she told him, “I got the news, and let’s go for a drive,” and they went for a drive. Maybe he didn’t like the news, and they might’ve gotten into an argument, and he might’ve said, “we can’t afford to have a baby now,” and she might’ve said that she wanted to have the baby. This is all just pure speculation, 190%! Then somehow, she ended up not coming back.
He had time and motive galore. We got off work at 3 am. Driving where they usually drove and back would take an hour to an hour & a half to go on the scenic route, have a conversation, murder somebody, and drive back. So there’s a window there.” – said Tony.
Tony alluded to some potential additional issues with the joint investigation into Jessica’s missing persons and murder investigation, other than failing to interview all necessary employees at the Domino’s pizza at the onset of her missing person investigation.
“At that time, what messed things up was that the Moncton Police were investigating Jessica’s missing person’s case. They found her body; it was quite a while, maybe a month or two, out of Moncton police’s jurisdiction. It was the RCMP’s jurisdiction. So, that’s where things started going more screwy because you had two different jurisdictions. Between you and I, as far as I am concerned, they had no idea what they were doing. They were really nice guys; they talked the talk. But from the actions they took, I looked at them, and I thought, “you’re just wasting your time.”
The RCMP messed up; they moved the body instead of waiting for the forensic scientist from the University of New Brunswick to come, they moved the body from the site where it was. So that
she (the forensic scientist) could see how long the remains were there, whether animals ate it (her body), if the tide got to it, or whatever. So that was another really bad mess up.
There is a lot on my plate when it comes to Jessica. She was never investigated properly. She was, in a way, but I don’t understand why there were never any charges brought, that’s all.” – Tony.
I asked Dawn what she heard about what happened and how she was killed.
“There was a lot of talk about him talking to other people that he had become really good friends with, some of the staff and that he admitted what happened (while) under the influence of alcohol, to more than one, there was like three employees. One was a girl that he ended up dating after Jessica. They had told me they were driving on the back road; he was taking her home, but by going on the back road. It wasn’t home to their apartment but home to Dorchester, to her parents, or to her mom’s house. From what I remember, they were arguing, and he pulled over, and I think it was a blow to the head, and then he dragged her behind a bush. He just left her there. I mean, for them to have found what they found, you know, it was just a miracle.
There was a girl that he started dating after Jessica that I had hired, and we were working together, and out of the blue, she told me that she had dated Shane. My husband and I originally owned Domino’s Pizza, and then my husband and I divorced, and I ended up buying the store from him. So I started hiring a whole new group of people, and she was one of them that I hired. Come to find out that she and Shane had dated, and she told me right out of the blue, “Well, I know, he told me that he had killed her.” I remember stopping and going to the phone and calling the RCMP, and they came right up. I was a big commotion. Her mother ended up coming in, and she was yelling and screaming at me, asking me why I would put her daughter in that position. She was ready to give a statement on what had happened. She knew everything, but nothing ever happened.” – Dawn
Remember how Jessica’s fiancé mentioned to local media in mid-1997 that the RCMP had not officially interviewed him? And then he was arrested, cautioned, questioned, and released the next day after going through the motions of applying for and being granted a warrant for arrest? Finally, Tony was able to shed some light on the matter.
“Are you aware of the ploy that the RCMP uses called Mr. Big? I can remember distinctly when I was doing some paperwork in the afternoon at Dominos’ Pizza and Shane coming in all in a huff, all upset, saying something to this effect, this is not verbatim, “Oh, I’m in shit now, they got me!” I asked what, and he said, “You know that guy that we (Shane and another friend at Dominos) were hanging out with, and we used to do things for them and all that on the weekends? And he used to buy us beer and give us money?” I said, “yea.” You know, that whole thing was sketchy too, and I found out why I thought it was sketchy because it was a Mr. Big operation. He says, “well, they brought me down to the station, they put up this picture of “Joe Blow” (I don’t remember his name, but he was the undercover guy), and then they go to me, you know this guy? Oh, yea, that’s “Joe Blow,” he and I used to go out on weekends kind of thing. Then they said, no, that’s constable O’Reilley, and he’s an undercover officer. And Shane, when he came in, was freaking out about that. And that’s the last I heard of it. I always wondered what was going on between these people. I knew there was something sketchy going on, but I didn’t know it was the RCMP. I didn’t even know what a Mr. Big Operation was.
He was getting pulled over by the RCMP and being harassed at the time, according to him. I have no documentation on it. When asked why he was so late for deliveries, he would say, oh, they pulled me over and asked me if I had my insurance card and all that. Now, this, according to him, happened more than once. It always baffled me why… After this, I thought for sure he was done like dinner, you know what I mean? Because he was very upset. I can’t say that he came out and said he did it, but he thought he was done like dinner. Whether he was innocent or not, he thought he had put his foot in his mouth over this Mr. Big deal.” – Tony.
Following Shane’s arrest & release, in mid-September 1997, Jessica’s case was handed to the crown prosecutor to consider and decide whether to lay any charges. Law enforcement told the local media that they had substantial evidence to show that Jessica was murdered. Their suspect, who they never named, but we know who it was, would be re-arrested within a few days. The matter was in the hands of the Moncton Crown Attorney, Anthony Allman, who was in mourning and had to fly back to the UK for his father’s funeral. However, he was due back before the end of the month.
September 1997 would end with no further news on the case. October would come and go with the same static results. Jessica’s case seemed to just grind to a halt. Through probing by the media at the time, the crown prosecutor said he was preparing a report for the province’s director of prosecutions outlining evidence gathered by law enforcement (both the RCMP and the Moncton police) during their investigations to obtain opinions on how to move forward, but didn’t give any anticipated timeline when the director of prosecutions would make any decision, one way or the other.
Months would go by, and Jessica’s case would be escalated to the highest level of the provincial justice system. The provincial chief criminal prosecutor, Glenn Abbott, was asked to view the case and give an opinion. He said he studied the file and gave his opinion to law enforcement. The provincial Crown prosecutors had met across the province in the late spring of 1998 to discuss the details of the case. Ultimately, they didn’t believe they had sufficient evidence to lay charges, and nothing has moved forward since.
In June of 1998, Jessica’s parents erected a memorial plaque with a loving poem on the banks of the Petitcodiac River, south of Beaumont, where her partial remains were found. But unfortunately, her remains were never turned over to them for burial. Instead, they still sit in evidence, waiting for the day when her killer may be brought to court.
Shortly after this, Jessica’s fiancé would move to Ontario, where he still resides.
Two years later, in early 2000, the RCMP interviewed or reinterviewed three people. The RCMP felt that new information came to light that they believed would break the case. Cst. Phillipe Houle, an investigator in the major crime unit assigned 30 cold cases to work on, is quoted as saying, “It’s incredible information,” and advised that he was preparing the information to be added to the crown prosecutor’s package already had for Jessica.
Shortly after that, the Moncton Times & Transcript, in collaboration with the RCMP, published a ‘Cold files’ series featuring ten different cold cases, 1 featured each week, from the area. Jessica’s case was the 7th out of the series. After the article was published, law enforcement indicated that the article resulted in new information. What that further information was, of course, was never provided.
And yet, nothing has changed in the time since this took place. After a request for an interview, by this podcast, with the RCMP, they simply indicated that the file is still open and are asking anyone with information, no matter how inconsequential they believe it may be, to come forward.
This is what Dawn has said with regards to everything that has taken place since:
“The Moncton City police was changing over to the RCMP and they had actually set up some sort of sting where they had two undercover cops coming in all the time late night. They started getting Shane to go with them over the border to get cigarettes or something and then they would get him drunk and I think he confessed. They must have done something they shouldn’t have done to get that information and they couldn’t use it in court or something. I know that he is always looking over his shoulder. He knows it’s going to come down. I am sure he feels it. I really feel eventually they’re going to find something and get him for what he did because it’s not fair that he is out there with a family, you know, and a wife.”
If anyone has information on the Murder of Jessica Estabrooks, please contact the RCMP Major Crime Unit (south) in NB at 1-506-452-3491 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) should you wish to remain anonymous.
I’ll sign off by reading the loving poem posted on the plaque raised in Jessica’s memory by her parents:
Gone is the face we loved so dear,
Silenced is the voice we loved to hear,
Too far away for sight or speech,
But not too far for thoughts to reach.
Sweet to remember, she who once was here,
And who though absent, is just as dear.
Missed is the touch of her friendly hand,
Gone is the kindness beyond recall,
Gone to a world where peace and love
Are given and gained by all.
In loving memory of Jessica Lynn Estabrooks
3 thoughts on “Jessica Estabrooks – Part 2 – Mr. Big”
“They started getting Shane to go with them over the border to get cigarettes or something and then they would get him drunk and I think he confessed. They must have done something they shouldn’t have done to get that information and they couldn’t use it in court or something.”
Well that is damn frustrating. I agree with the people interviewed, he always was… off. Don’t know how to describe it.
Really well written article, thanks for writing it.
I grew up with Jessica. We went to Sunday school together. My mom babysat her and her sister Natalie after school. I dated Shane before Jess did so he didn’t let her talk to me despite the fact we lived just streets apart at the time. I was interviewed in my parents living room about Shane and what I might know. I know that he is very capable of hurting her. It breaks my heart every day.
Dawn MacGregor Seaman is the “friend”referenced. She dated Shane in high school before any of us.