Investigation continues into trucker’s death

Posted Sept. 15, 2009, at 8:22 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:13 p.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — Police continue to investigate the death of a 55-year-old Tennessee truck driver who was found in a downtown parking lot shortly after a confrontation with two local youths, acting Police Chief Phil Dawson said Tuesday.

Officer Patty McLaughlin, the case’s prime investigator, met with state police Detective Sgt. Troy Gardiner and other investigators last week. They agreed that the case needed further probing before it could be forwarded to the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office in Bangor for review and possible action, Dawson said.

“We are in hopes of tying this up as soon as is practical,” Dawson said Tuesday.

The death of Brian Isdell, 55, and reports of a violent confrontation he had with two local teens, Justin Pete and Steve Osnoe, just before his death on Aug. 20 led local and state police to seal off the entire Mechanic and Lake streets block for most of that morning as they investigated.

An autopsy conducted Aug. 21 showed that Isdell died of natural causes brought on by heart disease.

The state medical examiner’s ruling precludes homicide charges, but investigators believe lesser charges might need to be applied, police have said.

Police would not specify the possible charges, but the teens — who strongly denied having anything to do with Isdell’s death — said they promised to help Isdell buy marijuana and that Pete fought with him after they had taken a carton of cigarettes from his truck. They also took the trucker’s cell phone.

McLaughlin found Isdell lying in a parking lot at Lake and Main streets at about 3 a.m. on Aug. 20. His truck was parked at Mechanic and Main streets on the opposite side of the football-field-sized lot with its motor running and lights on.

Isdell’s destination was the Katahdin Avenue tissue mill, which is about two blocks from the parking lot. The parking lot is a hangout for teenagers, and alcohol consumption, cocaine and marijuana use, and drug dealing regularly occur there, area teenagers said.

Police occasionally have been called to handle incidents there.

McLaughlin’s discovery occurred within seven minutes of the truck’s arrival at the scene, police have said. Investigators have fairly exact times because a surveillance camera from a local business recorded the truck’s arrival. Penobscot County Regional Communications Center dispatchers also logged McLaughlin’s radio call for medical assistance.

A Penobscot Valley Hospital ambulance took Isdell to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The case’s culmination depends on, among other things, state police detectives getting free of other responsibilities to help close the investigation, Dawson said.

A judge will have to sign off on an arrest warrant before arrests could occur.

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