BELMONT, Maine — Maine State Police confirmed Monday evening that the skeletal remains found in the woods over the weekend by a deer hunter are those of Charles Springer, who has been missing since 2008.
Springer, who was 69 when he wandered away from his Halls Corner Road home,
had suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. There was no sign of foul play in his death, according to a statement released Tuesday afternoon by police spokesman Stephen McCausland.
“I’ve been praying right along that he’d come back alive or that they’d find his body,” said his mother, Ellie Springer, 90, in a telephone interview from her home in Lebanon. “When it comes, it’s still so hard.”
She said that when the body was found, police told her that it had a metal plate in one leg, and that’s when she knew that Chuck had been found. The former long-distance trucker had once hurt himself cutting wood and had a plate in one leg.
“I knew right away. I said, that’s him. It was just devastating to me,” she said. “I wish they’d found him within a few days. I think about other people who have missing family — at least we know.”
It has been two and a half years of not knowing for the family.
Springer walked away from his home in this rural Waldo County town on May 2, 2008. He often walked the roads of Belmont, visiting people, and was spotted about three miles away at the Town Hall where he may have tried to get his driver’s license reinstated.
“He wanted to drive so badly,” his mother, who lived with him and cared for him as his disease worsened, said. “Oh, how he wanted to drive. When the doctor took his license away from him he was devastated.”
The deer hunter found Springer’s body less than two miles away from his house. According to the state medical examiner’s office, members of Maine’s forensic dental team — which is affiliated with the Maine Dental Association — examined the remains and dental records to formally identify the body.
“Now we have finally got some closure on him,” said his sister Joanne Gringoreas of Lebanon. “It is tough.”
Ellie Springer said that her son would be cremated and at a later date there would be a church memorial service. His ashes will be scattered in front of the home he purchased about 40 years ago.
“He loved his home,” she recalled. “He just wanted to live there in Belmont. He loved it there.”
Springer had many friends in the area, she said, and was a generous man who would let anyone use his snowmobiles and four-wheelers and helped others at Christmas. He also loved to play baseball and had been on a team in Belfast.
“He just loved doing that — getting up there at bat and hitting the ball,” she said. “He liked the Boston Red Sox. He wore a hat with a B on it.”
Ellie Springer said that her son also enjoyed dancing and company.
“He liked to be around people, until the end, when he wasn’t able to talk very much,” she said. “Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease.”
And although having closure can help, it doesn’t stop the pain of the loss, she said.
“It’s hard for anyone who loses a loved one, and especially a child,” Ellie Springer said. “Children aren’t supposed to die before their parents.”