HOWLAND, Maine — A unique belt and buckle are the strongest clues investigators have to the identity of a badly decomposed body found Monday in the Penobscot River at the Howland Dam.
A worker at the dam found what appears to be a man and called 911 at about 9:10 a.m., Chief Deputy Troy Morton of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department said.
It’s impossible to say yet where upriver the person came from, what killed him, or how long the body was in the water, though it could have been months, Morton said.
“But there is nothing here that leads us to believe that there is a danger or threat to public safety posed by this case,” Morton said Monday.
Several detectives and some investigators from the Maine State Police were searching missing persons reports and had some leads Monday as they awaited results of an autopsy scheduled today at the office of the chief medical examiner in Augusta, Morton said.
Morton declined to describe the belt and buckle. He said he hoped residents who know of a missing person, and that person’s penchant for wearing the unique items, would prove themselves reliable witnesses by calling 947-4585 and describing both in some detail to investigators.
“We feel that the belt buckle is very unique and that it may help us to identify this person,” Morton said.
Investigators might release photos of the belt and buckle within a few days if they don’t get any leads, he said.
The body was found above the dam, Morton said. Conceivably, it could have come from any point north of the dam, including the Penobscot and Piscataquis rivers, the Mattawamkeag River about 25 miles north and its branches, and any of the Penobscot tributaries, brooks, lakes and ponds that flow into the Penobscot from the Katahdin region, about 50 miles along the river from the dam.
“I wouldn’t want to speculate about that,” Morton said.
River flows have been high and rapid with the mild weather, pronounced snowmelt and rains of the last several weeks, Morton said.