NEWPORT, Maine — The search for a man wanted for questioning in connection with his father’s death continued Wednesday as authorities sought clues to his whereabouts and urged residents in the area to remain cautious.
As of late Wednesday evening there had still been no confirmed sightings of Perley Goodrich Jr., 45, who has been missing since late Monday night. Goodrich Jr.’s 76-year-old father, Perley Goodrich Sr., was found dead by police, who responded to a report of shots fired at the residence at about 11:40 p.m. Monday.
Goodrich Jr.’s mother, Sandra Goodrich, 64, also was assaulted during Monday’s attack. She is recovering from serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. Authorities have said Goodrich Jr. was the only other person in the home at the time of the shooting.
After Tuesday’s exhaustive search, investigators had been waiting for a lead about Goodrich Jr.’s whereabouts. At about 3 p.m. Wednesday, an officer on an all-terrain vehicle, who was patrolling woods roads near the end of Pratt Road, saw a man cross the trail ahead of him, according to a press release from the Maine Depart-ment of Public Safety.
Dozens of law enforcement officers converged on the area roughly between the ends of Pratt and Smith roads near the Newport and Corinna town line. Both roads are sparsely populated and deteriorate into soggy, overgrown trails. The same area, along with others, was searched extensively on Tuesday.
Authorities believe Goodrich Jr. left the scene of the attack in a green Chrysler Town and Country minivan, which they later found parked alongside Clark Hill Road about a mile or so from the location searched late Wednesday.
Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland called the sighting “the best lead we’ve had so far,” but stressed that it was an “unconfirmed sighting,” which means authorities are unsure whether it was the person they are searching for.
Officers from several agencies, who were already in the area investigating the crime, began the search and were reinforced as dark fell by the Maine State Police Tactical Team. The now-familiar sight of a circling search airplane from the border patrol continued into the night.
Anne Wagner, who lives at the end of Pratt Road, said she doesn’t know the Goodrich family very well but has seen Perley Goodrich Jr. over the years walking and bicycling past her house to the woods trails beyond.
“I didn’t sleep at all last night, that’s for sure,” she said. “Everything’s locked up tighter than a drum.”
Meanwhile, the town of Newport was abuzz Wednesday with talk of the shooting death and speculation about where Goodrich Jr. might be.
Bill Pelkey, owner of The Dog House Drive-in in Newport, said some people think Goodrich Jr. is “hunkered down” somewhere in the woods, perhaps in a cave or other structure where he had previously stashed food and supplies.
“I’ve heard that two times today,” said Pelkey.
At Bear’s One-Stop, the killing had been discussed by customers and employees all day, said meat cutter Scott Hudson of Plymouth. The buzz was fueled Tuesday when a man resembling Goodrich Jr. visited the store to buy a bottle of hard alcohol.
“We thought it was him so the owner called police,” said Hudson. “They came and showed a picture. It wasn’t [Goodrich Jr.].”
Hudson said employees of the store, based on statements made by the man, believe he was Kenneth Goodrich, Perley Goodrich Jr.’s older brother.
“He said he’d just left the house before [the shooting] happened,” said Pelkey.
David Brown of Corinna, a salesman at Aubuchon Hardware, said many customers say they’re “on edge” because Goodrich Jr. hasn’t been apprehended. Brown has his own theory about Goodrich Jr.
“I think when they find him, he’s going to be dead,” said Brown. “It’s just a gut feeling.”
Newport Town Manager James Ricker repeated what he told the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday.
“People are still very worried that he hasn’t been apprehended,” said Ricker.
McCausland said that a total of about 40 officers from local, state and county police as well as from the Maine Warden Service were involved in the search Wednesday night.
“They’ll likely continue the search for another few hours and then reassess the situation,” said McCausland at about 8:30 p.m. At 10:30 they were still searching.