ORONO, Maine — Jordyn Elizabeth Bakley was a cat person.
The 20-year-old also was a photographer, a humanitarian, a lover of the environment, a University of Maine student, and she recently had taken up rock climbing.
The Camden native’s active life was cut short one month ago when her bruised body was found lying in the roadway a block from her Middle Street apartment during the frigid early morning hours of Jan. 30.
So far, police have made no arrest, but are working with the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office to find the person responsible.
“The Orono Police Department and state police continue to investigate,” Penobscot County District Attorney Chris Almy said Monday. “It’s a very serious case and needs to be investigated thoroughly.”
Bakley’s death, which may be a hit-and-run, is considered suspicious, he said.
“That’s a homicide,” Almy said. “Whether it’s a murder or manslaughter remains to be seen.”
For Bakley’s friends, the past month has flown by, but the unanswered questions remain.
“I don’t think anyone will have full closure until we know” what happened, friend Kristina Clements said last week while having tea at the Memorial Union, where the two women worked together.
A Bangor Daily News delivery person walking down the street an hour before sunrise on Jan. 30 found Bakley’s body in front of 15 Middle St. He immediately called 911. An autopsy determined that Bakley died of multiple blunt-force trauma; however, the manner of death is pending further investigation.
“I was at work [at the Union] that Saturday and she was supposed to be there but she wasn’t, unfortunately,” Clements said.
The university sent out a campuswide e-mail to students and staff about Bakley’s death, which is how Clements heard about the death of her friend.
“It was like a slap in the face,” she said. “I sat there for, like, five minutes” unable to move.
“The last time I saw her was Thursday,” Jan. 28, Clements said.
Bakley was born in Voorhees, N.J., and moved to Maine with her family in 1999. She graduated from Camden Hills Regional High School, where she was a competitive swimmer, in 2007 and then applied and was accepted at the University of Maine. She was a UM junior, majoring in elementary education and women’s studies.
While in high school Bakley was active in Diversity Coalition and the Water Monitoring Program, and she spent time in Mississippi building a Habitat for Humanity home, according to her obituary.
On her Facebook page, which is private, she posted a saying: “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.”
She also posted “I love the sound the shutter makes” about her love for photography. Clements shared a selection of Bakley’s pictures last week. Some were artsy shots of board games, scenery or her cat, and one simply was of a bed in which her boyfriend, Chester Ruth, was sleeping, an empty spot beside him.
“Jordyn and I spent a lot of time together, I loved her dearly,” Ruth said Saturday by e-mail.
“She described him as her rock,” Clements said of Ruth.
Clements helped to organize a gathering of friends in the Bangor Room at the Union two weeks ago which featured a slide show of Bakley’s pictures and pictures of her.
Bakley adopted her gray-and-white striped cat from the Knox County Humane Society and named him Tyler. One of her former roommates since has adopted the feline.
The District Attorney’s Office began handling the release of any information concerning the Orono death just over two weeks ago, which indicates investigators may have found a suspect.
A week after Bakley’s body was found, the public was asked to help find a full-size Chevrolet pickup or SUV, believed to be a 2003 to 2007 Chevrolet Silverado or Avalanche, with front-end damage.
Almy declined to say whether a suspect was being questioned or whether a vehicle was taken into evidence, and recently said that the possibility that Bakley was the victim of a hit-and-run accident “has not been determined.”
Because the investigation into the month-old case is still active, anyone with information about the incident is urged to call the Orono Police Department at 866-4451.
Bakley’s family has declined to comment on the investigation.