LUBEC, Maine — Investigators are waiting for the results of an autopsy report on a 27-year-old periwinkle harvester who died last month in the Lubec Channel not far from his home.
A woman who answered the telephone at the state medical examiner’s office on Friday said it would be May before there would be any results as to the cause of death of Kristopher Fergerson.
Fergerson and a friend were harvesting periwinkles, a small edible species of gilled snail known locally as wrinkles, the night of Dec. 2 when Ferguson disappeared.
After Fergerson vanished, the Maine Marine Patrol, assisted by Maine State Police and Washington County Sheriff’s Department, began an investigation, which now is on hold pending the outcome of a toxicology report from the medical examiner’s office, officials said Friday.
“Which can take several months depending on their backlog,” said state police Sgt. John Cote.
Although Cote referred all questions to Marine Patrol Officer Russell Wright, who is the lead investigator, he did say that police no longer are working the case on a daily basis.
Reached early Friday evening, Wright said there have been no new developments in the investigation.
“I haven’t heard anything new,” Wright said. “As far as I know, the next step, if there is one, won’t happen until the [toxicology] results are in.”
Cote agreed. “If new information develops and we feel we need to go back and do more follow-up, we are certainly willing to do that if that is what needs to happen,” he said
Fergerson and his friend Dennis Knox, 47, also of Lubec, had gone by foot to the flats off Lower Water Street in what is known as the Brownville section of Lubec. Knox told police afterward that he and Fergerson had been picking wrinkles when the tide started to come in. He said he told Fergerson to quit and return to the car, but when he turned around, Fergerson wasn’t behind him.
He said he could hear him hollering. He said he believed Fergerson had been caught in the rising tide and had gone to higher ground to await rescue by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Knox then went to the nearby U.S. Customs Office at the foot of the Roosevelt-Campobello International Bridge to summon help.
Police and volunteers soon arrived and combed the beach throughout the night and the next day, but the wrinkler was never found.
Fergerson’s body was found more than a week later just above the high-tide mark by a Lubec resident walking his dog on the beach.
The harvester’s body was within view of the Lubec Channel Light, also known as the Sparkplug, where he last was seen picking wrinkles.
Periwinkles are a kind of escargot and are sold through middlemen to markets in major U.S. cities and Canada, where they are cooked and eaten with butter and vinegar.