Police still seeking tips in ‘highly suspicious’ death of boy found on South Berwick roadside

Posted May 17, 2011, at 2:53 p.m.
Last modified May 18, 2011, at 10:12 a.m.
A memorial is seen Tuesday in South Berwick, Maine near where the body of an unidentified boy was found  Saturday. Police have classified the death as suspicious.
Joel Page | AP
A memorial is seen Tuesday in South Berwick, Maine near where the body of an unidentified boy was found Saturday. Police have classified the death as suspicious.
A photo released by the Maine State Police  shows "Lightning McQueen" black sneakers worn by a young boy found dead along a remote road in South Berwick, Maine, Saturday afternoon
AP | Maine State Police
A photo released by the Maine State Police shows "Lightning McQueen" black sneakers worn by a young boy found dead along a remote road in South Berwick, Maine, Saturday afternoon
Maine state police Col. Robert Williams, left, and Lt. Bryan McDonough appear at a news conference Monday outside a state police mobile command post in South Berwick, Maine to update the media on the death of a young boy found along the road Saturday.
John Patriquin | AP | The Press Herald
Maine state police Col. Robert Williams, left, and Lt. Bryan McDonough appear at a news conference Monday outside a state police mobile command post in South Berwick, Maine to update the media on the death of a young boy found along the road Saturday.
This computer generated image released by the Maine State Police Sunday, May 15, 2011, shows the likeness of a young boy found dead along a remote road in South Berwick, Maine, Saturday afternoon, May 14, 2011.
AP
This computer generated image released by the Maine State Police Sunday, May 15, 2011, shows the likeness of a young boy found dead along a remote road in South Berwick, Maine, Saturday afternoon, May 14, 2011.

Update, 10 a.m.:

ALFRED, Maine — Investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are going to military installations in the Northeast in hopes of being able to identify the body of a young boy found beside a back road in South Berwick, Maine.

State Police gave no indication Tuesday they were any closer to identifying the boy, believed to have been between 4 and 6. He was found dead on Saturday.

A witness told police about a blue pickup truck believed driven by a woman seen near where the body was found that may have had a Navy insignia on the license plate.

Meanwhile, about 400 people attended a candlelight vigil for the boy Tuesday evening.

Vigil organizer Amy Aiguier says no human being should be unidentified.

Original story:

ALFRED, Maine — Maine State Police have enlisted the help of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service as they try to identify a young boy found dead on the side of a back road near the Maine-New Hampshire border, officials said Tuesday.

During a briefing in Alfred, state police Lt. Brian McDonough said a witness who saw a dark blue truck near where the body was found Saturday in South Berwick noticed some type of Navy insignia near the license plate. The witness believes the truck was being driven by a woman who was the only occupant, McDonough said.

Police gave no indication they were any closer to identifying the child.

NCIS investigators are going to military installations and naval reserve centers in the region, McDonough said.

“It’s more intuition than anything. But we’re really starting to wonder if the individual whose was involved with the truck was a member of the military,” McDonough said.

Investigators theorize that if the boy belonged to a transient, military family, he was less likely to be known to neighbors, which could explain why he has not been reported missing, McDonough said.

Investigators have fielded more than 200 tips since the boy’s body was found on Saturday and they have worked their way through half of them.

At a Tuesday afternoon press conference the Maine State Police offered little new information about the death and subsequent investigation, despite more than 200 tips that have come in since his death was reported.

None of the tips had panned out as of late Tuesday afternoon. Police were also conducting DNA tests on the boy’s body in the event they may be helpful in tracking down family members.

Also Tuesday, police released a detailed photo of the boy’s “Lightning McQueen” sneakers in the hopes they might jog someone’s memory and announced they had notified Interpol to ensure Canadian law enforcement agencies were in the loop.

The boy is believed to be between 4 and 6 years old. Police have labeled his death suspicious, but the cause has not been released.

The lack of a missing persons report on the boy is extremely unusual, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Such cases happen only about once a year across the country, said the center’s Ernie Allen.

The tips have been pouring in since police released a computer-generated image of the boy on Sunday, a day after his body was discovered by a local resident.

Investigators believe the boy was placed alongside a dirt road nine to 10 hours before the body was discovered around 5 p.m. Saturday.

The wooded location where the body was found wrapped in a blanket is now a memorial, with flowers, teddy bears and other items left as a remembrance to the boy. Local residents planned a candlelight vigil in the boy’s honor Tuesday night.

McDonough said during the press conference the police consider the death to be “highly suspicious” and that no scenarios have been ruled out yet. Police are researching whether they can use information from police DNA databases to identify the boy.

When the boy was found Saturday morning, he was wearing a gray camouflage hooded sweatshirt, tan pants and black sneakers adorned with the character Lightning McQueen from the Disney movie “Cars.” His age was estimated to be between 4 and 6 years old.

“He was clean,” McDonough said at the press conference. “His fingernails seemed clean. He was a small kid but I don’t think he was undernourished.”

McDonough said it is “really bizarre” that the boy still has not been reported missing after this long and public a search.

“There’s really no explanation for this other than there’s more than one person involved and they’re trying to cover for each other,” McDonough said.

“A lot of these bodies end up within 300 feet of some comfort zone of the individual that deposited them,” McDonough said at the conference.

Police hoped the boy would be missed at school, kindergarten or preschool, but that didn’t happen Monday.

Neighbors, meanwhile, were unnerved by the death in this town that borders New Hampshire.

Lorraine Tuttle, who lives on a farm 300 yards from the site where the boy was found, said neighbors love the peace and quiet. It was unsettling to have dozens of police cars and television news trucks on their road.

“I’m very upset about the loss of such a young life,” she said. “No one wants to have something like that happen in their neighborhood. It does change your life one way or another.”

 

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