Dexter man eludes police after hours-long manhunt

Posted June 03, 2011, at 12:52 p.m.
Last modified June 03, 2011, at 6:15 p.m.
Henry Murdoch IV
Courtesy photo
Henry Murdoch IV

ST. ALBANS, Maine — A manhunt still was under way Friday evening for a Dexter man who reportedly bolted earlier in the day when police attempted to serve a felony warrant on him.

Police chased Henry Murdoch IV, 45, from Dexter to St. Albans but lost track of him late Friday afternoon.

The arrest warrant for Murdoch was issued because his bail had been revoked on arson and terrorizing charges that stemmed from a fire that destroyed his Dexter home in December. The town was preparing to take the property for nonpayment of taxes when the fire occurred.

A family member who had posted Murdoch’s bail took the money back a week ago, according to Dexter Police Chief Jim Emerson.

Emerson said he and police Officer Kevin Wintle were tipped off that Murdoch was at a Dexter home Friday morning, so they went to serve the arrest warrant. Thinking there was a possibility that Murdoch might bolt, Emerson said he stopped the cruiser a distance from the house while Wintle walked behind the building. He said Pittsfield police had attempted to serve the warrant on Murdoch the day before but a chase ensued.

“He evidently didn’t want to be arrested,” Emerson said.

As Wintle got behind the home, Emerson said he started to drive to the residence and had planned to knock on the door when he spotted Murdoch in his pickup truck.

“He kind of headed right for me and then he stopped,” the chief said.

Figuring he could arrest Murdoch then, Emerson said he hollered to Wintle on the radio that Murdoch was near the cruiser. As Wintle ran toward Murdoch’s truck, Murdoch started backing up.

“He backed up all the way down High Street from where we were, around the corner to Free Street, backed all the way up Free Street to the Baptist church, and then got turned around going frontward,” Emerson said.

Dexter police pursued Murdoch onto Route 7 toward Corinna, onto Line Road, then to Moody’s Mills Road to Fisher Road, according to Emerson. Murdoch then came back toward Dexter as far as Line Road, a dirt road off Fisher Road that turns into a “goat path,” the chief said. There, the cruiser got caught up on a rock, he said, while Murdoch continued on. Wintle got out of the truck and ran down the road to see whether Murdoch had turned off onto Fisher Road or Crawford Road, he said.

A tow truck had to be called to remove the cruiser from the rock, according to Emerson. He estimated damage to the cruiser at $1,000 plus labor.

At that point, other law enforcement officers joined in the chase. Murdoch reportedly led some of them on high-speed chases before ditching his pickup truck on remote Devil’s Head Road in St. Albans, an area police say is familiar to Murdoch. The Maine State Police Tactical Team, game wardens and the Somerset County Sheriff’s Department converged on the scene but could not find Murdoch.

Just before 4:30 p.m., Maine State Police Lt. Donald Pomelow said officers were pulling out of the area because there were few indications in which direction Murdoch might have run. Police tracking dogs failed to pick up his scent and numerous camps and cabins were searched to no avail. Pomelow said Murdoch used to own property in the Devil’s Head Road area, which could explain why he fled there.

“Now we’re waiting for help from the public,” Pomelow told reporters.

Murdoch was not believed to be armed, though Pomelow advised anyone who sees him to call police first and not try to approach him.

“He has some mental health issues that have been ongoing for a long time,” said Pomelow. “His family is very concerned for him.”

Julie Martin, who lives in the area of the manhunt, said she was troubled about the possibility of a wanted man in her neighborhood.

“When stuff happens up here, it gets very nerve-wracking,” she said, adding that she hadn’t seen any sign of Murdoch on Friday afternoon.

Murdoch is 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs about 135 pounds, has a full beard and last was seen wearing a bluish-green flannel shirt. Anyone who observes him is asked to call 911 or the Maine State Police at  800-452-4664.

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