Missing Rockwood man’s body found on Moosehead Lake

Posted July 24, 2011, at 10:31 a.m.
Last modified July 24, 2011, at 8:55 p.m.

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ROCKWOOD, Maine — Two female kayakers on Moosehead Lake made a grisly discovery Saturday morning when they came across the body of a man face down and partially floating along the shore.

Game wardens believe the body is that of Rockwood resident James Russell, 51, who was last seen on Sunday, Nov. 14, on Sand Bar Way in Rockwood just before a planned paddle across the lake to Mount Kineo. His green kayak, a paddle and his backpack were found last year floating in the water off Murray Road about two miles from Kineo.

“The body was tentatively identified as Mr. Russell because of the clothing and where he was located,” Edie Smith, director of information for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said Sunday. “The official identification will be made by the medical examiner’s office, which is where his body is now.”

Kayakers Donna Barnes of Brunswick and Susan Townsend of Lisbon Falls discovered the body at around 8:30 a.m., while paddling between Sandbar Island and the mainland.

The man’s body was clothed in a brown hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, hat and brown hiking boots, which “matches the description of what Mr. Russell was wearing at the time of his disappearance,” Smith said.

Russell had been working on a carpentry project on Sand Bar Way. In addition to his paddling gear, his bicycle also was found after he went missing.

After Russell was reported missing, an aggressive search was conducted by wardens — using sonar boats and airplanes — Unity College Search and Rescue members, Maine Search and Rescue dog teams, Maine Forest Service rangers, members of Russell’s family and friends who scoured Moosehead Lake in Rockwood, Kineo and Farm Island to no avail.

“With Moosehead Lake being over 40 miles long, the search was elongated and unfortunately, the body never located at that time, despite the exhaustive search,” Smith said.

Sgt. Chris Cloutier of the Maine Warden Service, who was assisted by District Ranger Bruce Reed, led the team that recovered the man’s body and tentatively identified it as that of Russell.

The medical examiner, in addition to officially identifying the body, also will determine his cause of death. A representative at the medical examiner’s office said Sunday that no information would be released until Monday at the earliest.

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