BANGOR, Maine — The homeless service organizations of Bangor were familiar with 19-year-old Holly Boutilier in the weeks and months before her death, but she was not what some might call a regular street person.
“She had come down a couple times for a meal,” said Bill Rae, director of Manna Ministries on Main Street, a short walk from where Boutilier’s body was found over the weekend.
Dennis Marble with the Bangor Area Homeless Shelter said people there had vague memories of the young woman walking by the shelter and perhaps even coming inside.
“But no one has said ‘we know her,’” he said. “We’ve had events, like Trevor Sprague [a homeless man who was murdered in 2006], like Holly; they are all awful.”
Carol Whitney, director of the Shaw House, a shelter for homeless youth in Bangor, declined to address the death of Boutilier specifically at the request of the Police Department. Speaking generally, though, Whitney said young people like Boutilier are at risk every day and night that they are on the street.
“I would hope this rattles some people,” she said. “Safety is a huge issue.”
The culture of the street is one of survival. Older street people often prey on younger ones, Whitney said. Organizations like the Shaw House try to make connections before the street culture sets in too deep.
“Some will resist,” she said. “We try to get to them as early as possible.”
A group of five Bangor teens hanging out Tuesday near the Shaw House, including two who said they had stayed at the facility in the past, expressed concern for fellow teens in the area, especially young females.
“I think it’s messed up,” said 16-year-old Karissa Wolfe, “It scares me whenever I walk alone.”
Eric Radley, 19, added, “I feel frightened for teen girls.”
The entire group voiced sorrow for Boutilier’s family. Chris McGaughlin, 17, said simply, “I feel really bad for the family, and her friends.”
It’s still not clear why Boutilier was found dead in a makeshift shack on the Bangor waterfront. It’s not clear whether she was homeless herself or for how long.
A representative with the Old Town School Department who declined to be identified confirmed that Boutilier went to middle school in Old Town and possibly high school. The official remembered her as a pleasant young lady who fit in well.
Her obituary describes the young woman as beautiful and kind with a heart of gold and extremely family-oriented. She has family in Old Town and Aroostook County. She loved animals.
Rae said he was concerned that Boutilier’s death would spur overreaction on that part of the waterfront.
“That’s where the drinkers go. We know this,” he said. “If they scatter them around again, it’s just going to make what we do harder.”
Marble, too, agreed that the current system of dealing with homelessness is broken.
“As demand has increased, there are more and more people out on the fringes,” he said. “This is predictable and sad and gray.”
A funeral service has been scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday at Birmingham Funeral Home in Old Town, followed by an interment at Hodgdon Cemetery.
BDN writer Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report