June 23, 2018
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Police identify body found near dam

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

Police have identified the man whose decomposed body was found one week ago in the Piscataquis River near the Howland Dam as a Guilford resident who went missing last fall.

David S. Gaston, 49, had been missing since October 2009, according to the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department, which investigated his death with help from Maine State Police and the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department.

The state medical examiner’s office has not yet released the results of an autopsy conducted last week because toxicology results are pending. The examiner’s office did indicate, however, that there was no evidence of foul play associated with Gaston’s death, which would suggest an accident or suicide.

His body was found March 22 above the dam and conceivably could have traveled from any point west on the Piscataquis River, which flows from Guilford, Gaston’s last known residence. The Piscataquis River runs from Guilford through Dover-Foxcroft and then snakes just south of Milo toward Howland where it merges with the Penobscot River.

Guilford Town Manager Tom Goulette said Gaston was known around town as an artist and musician, but few knew him well.

“He was an itinerant of sorts,” Goulette said Monday. “He came from Texas and lived in a house in the middle of downtown with his mother, I believe.”

Lt. Robert Young with the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department said Gaston had minor run-ins with police during his time in Guilford. He was arrested for disorderly conduct in 2006, and Goulette confirmed that the man had well-documented battles with alcohol.

According to public records, Gaston divorced from his wife in April 2009, ending a marriage that lasted less than one year. By the time a family member reported him missing last fall, no one had heard from Gaston in more than a week, according to Young.

“For all we knew, he went back to Texas,” he said.

Early last week, when Gaston’s body was found near the Howland Dam by a worker, police hoped that a unique belt buckle would help identify him. Young said Monday that the buckle was a large silver oval with a detailed flower design. “Not something you would see around here,” he said.

Chief Deputy Troy Morton of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department, however, said Monday that it wasn’t any one thing that confirmed Gaston’s identity but a combination of things.

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