SPENCER BAY TOWNSHIP, Maine — William Young suffered from dementia, as does Beverly Rutherford. So when Young heard from his wife, Claire, last week that Rutherford had been missing in Kokadjo, he apparently — despite Claire’s intentions — resolved to save her.
That’s why Game Wardens Eric Dauphinee and Tom McKenney found Young’s body at 11 a.m. Sunday at the base of a tree in woods more than 150 miles from the 77-year-old man’s home in Auburn, investigators from the Maine Warden Service said.
“Mrs. Young said that during the conversation with her husband she expressed some concern that he did not end up in a similar situation,” warden service Lt. Pat Dorian said in a statement. “For some reason, Mr. Young felt compelled to head to the Kokadjo area and find her.
“I don’t have any doubt in my mind that this is what happened,” Dorian added.
He called the dementia connection between Young and Rutherford “one of the most extraordinary things I’ve ever experienced in all my years conducting search and rescues.”
According to warden service spokeswoman Deborah Turcotte, Young and Rutherford are among at least a dozen people over the last 20 years who have suffered from medical conditions and disappeared, or tried to, in the remote, sparsely populated Kokadjo and township areas north of Greenville on the east side of Moosehead Lake.
Turcotte recalled a Brunswick man who disappeared in Kokadjo the same day his doctors diagnosed him with incurable brain cancer. That man was found alive, returned to his family and lived for several months. His disappearance occurred several years ago, she said.
“For some reason, people are just drawn to this area,” Turcotte said.
Young last was seen driving his Toyota RAV 4 in Auburn on Monday. Rutherford, 75, of South Portland was found shivering and hungry on the ITS 86 snowmobile trail in Kokadjo on April 10 about three miles from her car, which had become mired in mud.
Investigators found at least one clue that supports their belief about Young’s motivation. Young apparently had pulled a compass out of a bureau drawer but left it behind, Dorian said. Young’s wife said the compass usually is put away.
Investigators have not yet determined how long Young might have been in the township or Kokadjo. He apparently spent a night in his car, which had run out of fuel, before leaving it. The Toyota’s battery was dead, Turcotte said. The car was about nine miles from where he was found.
More than 100 people tried to find Young, Turcotte said, including 31 game wardens, two aircraft, 60 search and rescue volunteers and nine K-9s, a helicopter pilot and crew from the Maine Forest Service.
An autopsy will be performed at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta on Tuesday.