The Mystery of Denise Ramsey’s Untimely Death haunts her Family for more than a year after her body was found in Dad’s Shed

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A cold spring day in a Maine coastal town saw a large amount of decayed body discovered in a backyard shed. The body was already decomposed after months of cold northeastern weather. It was found in the backyard shed of an unassuming home in May 2021. “partially skeletal and mummified,”According to the report, the medical examiner. 

Denise Scott Ramsey was the owner of the body. Her body had been missing for 17 month by the time it was found. The owner of the property, her own father, had died of COVID-19 months before his daughter’s remains were found. 

To date, no one has been charged in Denise’s death. Authorities have not yet determined the cause of her death. In turn, there’s been no resolution for Denise’s family, who say authorities are not taking her case seriously. The Maine State Police told Inside Edition Digital that the investigation into Denise’s death remains ongoing and that there are no updates. It has been a year and a half since her body was found and nearly three years since family said she seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth. 

Some family members believe that Denise’s classification as “homeless and a drug user who sometimes stayed at her father’s house,” as indicated in the medical examiner’s report of her body, explains why there are so few answers in her case. 

“They’re labeling my mother a drug addicted transient,”Inside Edition Digital was informed by Danielle McNaughton’s daughter. “[The police] ‘protect and serve’ who? [Because] it ain’t us.” 

How Denise’s body ended up in the shed of that home in Casco remains a mystery. Some relatives believe she was murdered before anyone even noticed that she had disappeared. 

Denise’s socioeconomic status and history of addiction made it easy for her to fall through the cracks, her loved ones said. Resentments between her brothers that simmered before her death led to their inability to pursue justice. And the one man who could potentially shed light on Denise’s last moments – her own father – died before her body was discovered on his property. 

Court documents and interviews with Denise’s loved ones suggest there was infighting among the family members, and showcase the battles waged with authorities for answers in the wake of the discovery of her body. 

What’s been lost in the process, some family members say, is the legacy of Denise, a loving mother, sister, friend and daughter whose history with domestic violence, financial hardships and substance abuse made her a less-than-perfect victim, but one who still deserves justice.  

Tragic Events Take Denise Ramsey Young in Life 

Denise didn’t have the easiest of childhoods. “My mom had it pretty rough,” Danielle said. 

Windham, Maine was her home. It is a 30-minute drive from Casco, Cumberland County, where she grew up. According to a 2010 census, the county has a population of over 280,000 people and a median income around $55,000. It is considered safe.  

Denise was the youngest of her dad Douglas Scott Sr.’s three children with his first wife. She had two older brothers – Douglas Scott Jr. and Dan Scott. “My mom had a turbulent relationship with them,” Danielle said.

Doug Sr. had two sons later with his second wife, Shaun Scott and Travis Scott. 

Travis recalled Denise fondly and said that his older sister took her under her wing when they was children. “My sister was kind of like my mom. She was my best friend. We had the greatest time growing up,”He said. 

Denise’s relationship with her youngest brother, Shaun, who was more than 10 years younger than her, was exceptional. “She would take me everywhere she went when I was just a little baby and she was a teenager,” Shaun, 42, said. “She was technically my half-sister, but we never talked about that. That was never a thing. I was her little brother, and she was my big sister.”

Denise had a close relationship with her half brothers but was not able to get along with her stepmother. She died in 2021. According to relatives, Denise’s stepmother was sometimes physically abusive towards her.

People close to Denise say that she spent her childhood in foster care and was subject to both physical and sexual abuse.  

While in foster care, she met Tara Johnson, her best friend. They remained close throughout her entire life. “She went from foster home to foster home until she landed with my foster mother,” said Tara, who calls herself Denise’s sister. “Her and I were very inseparable.”  

Tara Johnson and Denise Scott Ramsey met in foster care. They quickly developed a strong bond that lasted into adulthood. Tara called Denise “sister”. – Tara Johnson

Denise, who was 13 years old, ran from her home and hitchhiked to Detroit during another time in her life. She eventually arrived in Florida at age 17 years. The following year, she met Danielle’s dad—the first of five marriages she would have in her lifetime—and eventually had Danielle.  

That relationship fell apart shortly after Danielle’s birth, and Denise returned to Maine.  

Denise sustained a foot injury after she returned to her home state. 

She was taken under the care and supervision of a podiatrist, who would later be sentenced for eight years in federal prison. He was charged with conspiracy, unlawful distribution oxycodone and fraud in health care. Prosecutors stated that he traded or sold more than 18,000 prescription oxycodone pills in the period 2009 to 2010. 

Around this time, Denise’s family says she developed an addiction to opiates, which led to the fracturing of her relationship with her younger brother Shaun. “It was too painful to watch,”He said. “You try to help somebody on drugs, and you try and try and try, but they have to want it.”   

How Denise Ramsey got to the Place She Would Be Found Dead 

Denise was born in Sangerville Maine and lived there for two-and-a half hours before moving to Casco to be with her father at his house at 196 Poland Spring Rd. 

“The house she had been renting was in disrepair,” Danielle said. The home didn’t have a fridge, a stove or heat in the winter. “Wintertime in Maine, it’s rough out here.” 

Denise, unable to rent a home of her own, moved in with her father. She agreed to live with him even though it meant she would be further from her daughter and grandchildren. 

“My grandfather had a tremendous guilt about … the things that had happened to my mom in her childhood,” Danielle said. “He was like, ‘You don’t got to do anything, you just got to come here and be here.’” 

Danielle was anxious, especially because her grandfather and mother did not have the best relationships.

“He had a bit of a temper. He would scream at you,”She spoke. “Their tempers were so much alike that they’d butt heads. I could see him telling her to pack up and get the f*** out [and] then she’d kind of be stranded.” 

Denise was living with her father in December 2019 when she moved in. Danielle explained that Denise spent her time helping her father with cleaning, cooking, and fixing up the house. 

“My mom helped him, waited on him hand and foot. And my mom was a clean freak so that place was spotless,”She spoke. “She would cook meals for him. He was a (doomsday) prepper so there was canned goods and frozen stuff to last them into the rapture.” 

They were also close friends over religion. Danielle shared with Danielle that her grandfather Douglas Scott Sr. was very religious and that her mom seemed to be seeking God in what would turn out to be her final days. 

“He talked your ear off forever about the scripture and all that. He put on this TV program that he would watch for two or three hours at a time every morning and they got their Bibles out,” Danielle said. “My mom was really starting to get into scripture and Bible study and all of that.” 

Doug Sr.’s home was not outfitted with a landline or internet and the property did not get good cell service, but Denise made sure to find spots where her cellphone received service so she could call Danielle. It was evident that Denise and her dad were getting along much better than expected during their conversations. 

“They were really working on reconciling their relationship,”She spoke. “He was enjoying her being there. They were getting along perfectly fine.”  

Danielle was last seen talking to her mother on Dec. 26, 2019, the day following Christmas. “We talked about the holiday and how everyone was doing,”She spoke. “That was probably one of the first [Christmases] that [Denise and Doug Sr.] had spent together in a very long time.” 

Ramsey, The Vanishing Denise  

Danielle’s 33rd birthday on Jan. 2, 2020 came and went without any fanfare. That’s when Danielle became suspicious that something may have been wrong. 

“My mom always, always went all out for my birthday,”She spoke. “She’d send flowers and balloons to my house. I was very surprised when Jan. 2 rolled around and I didn’t have 50 million text messages on my phone and like three missed calls, [voicemails from my mother saying,] ‘Yelle, wake up, Yelle, wake up.’” 

In previous years, Denise would celebrate Danielle’s birthday as if it were her own, often sharing stories about when she was in labor. 

“If she didn’t contact Danielle for her birthday, there was definitely something wrong because Denise never missed a birthday,” Tara said. “She would have gone all out and bought all kinds of stuff for her daughter and the grandbabies. Everybody got a present.” 

But on Danielle’s 33rd birthday, she didn’t hear from her mom at all.  

Danielle then saw a Facebook page that looked like it belonged to her mother. Danielle had sent the message to her mother on Jan. 4. Danielle is still skeptical that it was her mother behind the post. 

“It was like a two-paragraph comment of her just saying the most awful s***. Two days after my birthday.” Danielle said. “‘You are a wretched child. I wish I never had you. You ruined my life. All you ever do is talk s***. You are the most ungrateful person on the planet. I hate you.’ All this awful s*** my mom would never, ever f***ing say, let alone write in a public Facebook comment.” 

Danielle claimed she saw the comment, deleted it quickly and tried to put aside her anger until she got a chance talk to mom. A few days later, she called her mom and left a voicemail when she didn’t pick up. 

She called her grandfather’s cellphone a few days after that and was told by the person on the other end of the line that her mom was running errands. Danielle is still unsure if the person she called was her grandfather.

“I chalked it up as, ‘She’s mad at me about something. She’s not talking to me right now. I don’t know why,’” Danielle said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the U.S. shortly after, and between panic, shutdowns and juggling her kids’ remote schooling, Danielle didn’t have a chance to chase down her mom. 

“I figured when she got around to it, she would call,” Danielle said. 

Tara, who moved to Arkansas in 2018 along with her husband, noticed a marked drop in her contact with her close friend. Tara stated that they stopped talking daily and had little to no contact. “She was always worried about my health and how I was doing. Called me several times a day to make sure I took my meds,”She said that she was suffering from Lupus.  

Tara was last contacted by Denise in December 2019, shortly after Denise had moved to Casco. “I told her as soon as she moves into her dad’s house, I need to know that she is comfortable and she is safe,” Tara said. “She said she was doing fine, and that things were good. She said she was going to call me later, and never did.”

Tara called her cellphone several times after that, but Denise’s phone was always off, and Tara couldn’t reach her. 

Tara thought Denise might not have paid her cellphone bill or ran out of minutes for the month. “because that has happened,”She said that she was thinking at the time. “She could get her minutes and then she’d call me, but she never did. And that’s when I started getting really, really concerned. And Danielle was concerned.” 

Even though Danielle said she was sure her mom was more accountable at the time, she couldn’t shake a feeling that her disappearance might have had something to do with her drug use. “Maybe she fell off the wagon or something, being down that way with all of her ‘friends,’”Danielle said that she used air-quotes to describe the term.  

Tara stated that she was certain Denise would confide to her if Denise had relapsed to drug use, just as she did every other occasion. Tara would then video-call Denise to help her get clean. “She would never hide that from me,” Tara said. “She would tell me, and I would say, ‘OK, let’s work on getting back on track.’” 

Tara said she believed Denise hadn’t used drugs in more than a year before she disappeared in January 2020. A new doctor had prescribed Denise suboxone to help with the comedown from the opioids she had been using, but she wasn’t able to get a refill and decided to quit cold turkey, Tara said. 

“She made the decision to quit and that’s what she did,” Tara said.

After several months without hearing from her mother, Danielle said she reached out to her mom’s friends, and even contacted one of Denise’s estranged exes in Florida to see if he could ask around about her. 

No one had seen her. 

“It seemed like all roads [and] activity ended there or around this timeframe,”Toby Tiner Jr., private investigator, stated that January 2020 was the most likely date for life. He noted that the only signs of life were the posts on Facebook that were shared from the account that sent Danielle that angry message.   

Tiner is a licensed private investigator from Maine and has been working in the area of missing persons since 1995. He learned of Denise’s disappearance in April 2021 while playing in a softball league with Denise’s brother, Shaun. 

Tiner offered his services and, after a brief online search for Denise, he spent about a month in her case. She “seemed to vanish without a trace,”He said.  

Tiner reached out to cell phone companies to inquire if Denise had paid her bills. Tiner also reached out to the Social Security Administration, asking if Denise had collected her checks. Tiner also reached out storage companies for Denise’s belongings. “All indications were that there were no active accounts,”He said. 

He chose to go back to the things he valued. “square one,” Douglas Sr.’s Casco home, and suggested to Shaun that they search the property in the hopes of finding documents like bills or cellphone records. 

Tiner stated that Shaun had told Tiner by phone on May 8th, 2021, at approximately 1 p.m. that he would text Doug Jr. to inform him they were going to the house in the next few days to take a look around.  

About two hours later, at 3:26 p.m., a 911 call was made to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department. “The call was made by a family member who was cleaning out their father’s residence,” the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement to Inside Edition Digital. 

At 4 p.m. Tiner got a call from Shaun stating that Doug Jr. was at Casco and that Doug Jr. had found a body in the shed. 

The medical examiner’s report later noted “an empty container of bleach” lay near Denise’s skeletal remains in the shed. The report said that part of the pants her remains were found in had bleach on them. 

Shaun also believes that bleach may have been used in the upper levels of the home due to the large stain that he later found. “When I say large, I’m talking like, five or six square-foot area or bigger and you can see what’s bleached,” Shaun said. “And all around all the bleach stains on the floor, you can clearly see the blood stains.

“They (authorities) can’t figure out a cause of death [for Denise], but there was a lot of blood,” Shaun said.  

The Discovery of Denise Ramsey’s Remains 

Doug Jr. was horrified to make the gruesome discovery in his father’s boat shed on May 8, 2021.  

“I practically almost stepped on her. I thought it was a ball at first, but it was her head, sticking out of the blanket,”He spoke to Inside Edition Digital. “She was a skeleton. She had been that way for a while,” 

Her body was once 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighed 120 lbs. “partially skeletal and mummified,” according to the medical examiner’s report.

“She was 120 pounds of spitfire that would never, ever back down. She was a tough girl. Have you seen pictures of her? You’d have to sneak up on her to hurt her,” Shaun said.

Authorities believe Denise was killed in her home. The body was left there to decompose before it was removed to the shed. The medical examiner’s report indicated that her ankles had been tied together. 

According to the extent of her body’s decay, the medical examiner believes she died 26-months before she was found, which is much more than the 17-months since her last contact.  

The report also noted that the skull had been slightly separated from the spine and the right arm had also been separated from the body – the latter likely due to “small carnivores,”This can be a common result of the decomposition process. 

“She was reported to have been homeless and a drug user who sometimes stayed at her father’s house,” the medical examiner’s report said.

“They couldn’t even make sure everything was accurate. They’re labeling my mother a drug-addicted transient,”Danielle replied after reviewing the report. “But if she was some young little 20-something rich girl, you bet your ass they’d be all over it.” 

Denise’s body was discovered two months after the death of her father, Doug Sr, who died from COVID-19. He was hospitalized after contracting COVID in February. He died weeks later.  

Danielle claimed that Danielle and her grandfather had not spoken in months by the time he passed away from COVID-19. “There were a couple months where I hadn’t talked to him,”She remembered. “I had tried to call him a couple times and it went to voicemail.” 

Danielle stated that they spoke only a few times in the latter part of 2020. “he’d be rambling … it sounded more and more like my grandfather was losing his faculties. Like he had dementia-type stuff,” Danielle recalled. “I’d ask him about mom, and he’d say, ‘I don’t know, she must have taken off or something but all of her stuff is taking up room.’” 

The Scott patriarch’s children spend the days leading up to and following his death fighting. Travis, Shaun and Dan battled Doug Jr. to decide who was allowed to see their father and who would have control of his estate. Travis also argued with Dan about who should get the proceeds from the sale of their home. Travis felt that Travis deserved recognition for his care and support during his last days. Doug Jr. said that his family considers him as “a pariah,” in court documents said he was owed for the work he was doing to his father’s home. The backyard boat shed was one of the projects. “That’s when he found her, when he was tearing the boat shed down,” Shaun said.

What happened to Denise Ramsey’s life?

Doug Jr. believes that Doug Sr. killed his sister. 

Doug Jr. said that in November 2020, about 10 or 11 months after anyone last heard from Denise, he had entered his father’s home late one evening after his shift at Home Depot and encountered his dad, who said with a smile, “Your sister’s in the shed.”  

“I was like, ‘You’re full of s***,’”He said that he had told his father. He said that he eventually shrugged off the interaction.

Doug Jr. also recalled seeing his dad sitting in front a window, holding a rifle, and again claiming that his sister was in a shed. He said he later wondered if his dad had wanted to frame him for Denise’s murder, by pressuring him to look in the shed. 

Doug Jr. and other family members claimed that Doug Sr. had a history involving violence against Denise. “No one knew his evil side more than I did,”Doug Jr.

Doug Jr. stated that Denise’s father had told him at one time that Denise had left the house and moved into a camper in woods. “some guy,” he said, but also said the story didn’t make sense to him either as he didn’t believe she would leave her cats and dogs. “The old man killed all the cats and kept the dog,”Doug Jr. “I found the bodies of the cats in the spring as I was cleaning the surrounding area.” 

Doug Jr. said he didn’t look in the shed until May 2021, because he, too, had fallen extremely ill from COVID-19. “I was sick as a dog. I couldn’t even get near anybody for a month. I couldn’t even go to work for a month,”Doug Jr.  

Shaun remembered seeing Doug Jr. around his father’s Casco home in March, April and May working on heavy duty projects involving gallons of cleaning supplies. “He was cleaning the house out,” Shaun said.  

The Impossible Pursuit of Justice 

Officially, authorities are still investigating Denise’s death. “The circumstances surrounding this death are suspicious,” the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, which had been handling the case before turning it over to the Maine State Police Department, told Inside Edition Digital. 

But Shaun and Danielle aren’t hopeful that justice will be served in their beloved sister and mom’s death. The lead investigator on the case, Det. Corey Pike of the Maine State Police, told Danielle in an August 2021 email, shortly after her mother’s body was identified, “because your grandfather is deceased, we will not be charging anyone with a crime.” 

Danielle McNaughton

“What does my grandfather being deceased have to do with anything? What?” Danielle said.

Doug Sr. was in his 80s at the time of Denise’s death and was disabled. Chronic obstructive lung disease (or COPD) was his condition. This is a group that causes airflow blockage and other breathing-related problems. The lung disease makes breathing difficult. His family stated that he also suffered mobility problems and was unable climb stairs at his home. His family stated that he couldn’t have killed his daughter by himself. 

Also upsetting to Danielle is law enforcement’s lack of communication. Danielle stated that she was only visited once by the Maine State Police. When it was handling the case, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office provided very few updates, as well, she said.

During the phone conversations Danielle had with Det. Danielle stated that Pike was involved in the case. “She just kept talking over me … I ended up raising my voice because I was crying. I’m like, ‘You’re not listening to me. Why do you refuse to listen to me? Why do you refuse to let me tell you about my mom?’ 

“And then she says to me, ‘Yelling at me won’t bring your mom back,’”Danielle was able to recall the conversation. “I know that, but why would you say that?” 

“They ain’t figure out s***,” Travis said. 

“The state failed my sister,”Doug Jr. 

Doug Jr. claimed that he had provided DNA samples to the police and completed a polygraph test. He and all members of the family believed that he passed the test. He said that no other family member was asked to take the polygraph test. This leads him to believe the case is not being thoroughly investigated. 

And before Denise’s body was discovered, Danielle attempted to file a missing person report so Tiner, the private investigator, could get access to documents and bills that could indicate where Denise might have been. When she went to her local police station, she was told she had to report Denise as a missing person within the jurisdiction of her last known address in Cumberland County – hours away by car for Danielle, who didn’t have access to a car. 

Shaun went on her behalf, and after much explanation, police filed an All-Points Bulletin (sometimes referred to by the BOLO), or “be on lookout”Broadcast, with emphasis on the East Coast. Authorities across the country would be able to see Denise. “[It’s] a bulletin to let this person know if you see them that there’s a family emergency going on, they need to go home and clear it up,” Danielle said. “They didn’t feel like it was a missing person, I don’t know why.”

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office would not comment on its interactions with Denise Ramsey’s family. Shannon Moss, Maine State Police public information officer, told Inside Edition Digital that they could not comment or confirm any information regarding the case due to the ongoing investigation.

Both authorities from the two agencies didn’t acknowledge Det. Pike’s August correspondence with Danielle, which Danielle took to imply authorities are not pursuing any additional leads in the wake of Doug Sr.’s death. 

What is Left 

Though not hopeful they’ll find them, Denise’s loved ones continue looking for answers. 

“I’m a very angry person, and I want answers,” Travis said.  

Shaun reported that the Casco house had been sold. A buyer offered less than $200,000 for the property. Shaun says he split the profits evenly among his surviving siblings, despite originally intending to withhold Doug Jr.’s share because of damage he allegedly caused to the house. “He can fight it and it will end up costing more,” Shaun said. “Just [want to] wash my hands of it so I never have to deal with it ever again.” 

Shaun contributed his share of the profits to help pay for cancer treatment and surgery. He was diagnosed shortly after his father’s death. “Almost to the dollar amount, it’ll cover it,”He elaborated. 

Shaun is now in remission more than a full year. “Money don’t mean s*** if you’re not there to provide [for], protect your family,” Travis said. “We’re family. We’re supposed to be on the same page.”  

Travis broke down as he explained the incredibly difficult time he has had coping with the deaths of his dad, mom and sister, as well as Shaun’s cancer diagnosis. To cope, he turned to alcohol. He is not the first to struggle with alcoholism. He sought counseling and help for sobriety.  

“I really turned to alcohol … to drown my pain … in the process I’ve been pushing away people that really love me and that’s not fair,”He spoke to Inside Edition Digital. “I just feel like I’m suffocating because of everything that happened.” 

In the months following the discovery of Denise’s body, Danielle has cut ties with her uncles and continues to press Maine State Police for answers.  

Despite encountering roadblock after roadblock Danielle is determined to do what it takes to make her mother’s case fair. It’s all she has left. “I know she ain’t coming back,” Danielle said. “I feel that every single day.” 

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