SOUTHWEST HARBOR, Maine — According to Maine State Police, remains found Aug. 25 at a subdivision on Mount Desert Island are “likely” those of resident Pete Peterson, who has been missing for nearly a year.
Police issued a statement Friday afternoon after more than 40 searchers with multiple agencies spent part of the day in the woods and fields of the Village at Ocean’s End housing development.
Without specifically indicating what police found, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said in a release that searchers were looking Friday for additional remains or items connected with Peterson and that some items were found.
“The medical examiners have not determined how Peterson died, although foul play is not suspected,” McCausland wrote in the release.
Assisting the Maine state medical examiner’s office in the search were officers with Maine State Police, Maine Warden Service, Marine Patrol, Southwest Harbor police and Acadia National Park, among other search and rescue agencies.
Lt. Chris Coleman of Maine State Police, who helped coordinate the search efforts Friday, said five cadaver dogs were on scene to assist police and investigators — three from Maine Search and Rescue, and one each from the Maine Warden Service and Maine State Police. Mount Desert Island Search and Rescue also assisted in the search, he said.
After the Aug. 25 search, “we wanted to come out and do a more thorough search, and that is what today is,” Coleman said mid-afternoon.
Peterson, who was developmentally disabled, went missing in late September 2010 and though several search efforts were undertaken over the past year, there was no indication of what may have happened to him, until now. Last weekend, a remembrance event for Peterson was held in Southwest Harbor so people could share memories and other reminders of the missing man.
Privately, local people have said they believed Peterson was dead, even if his remains had not been found and identified. Some have said they hoped the remains found last month at Ocean’s End would be confirmed to be his so that the many people in Southwest Harbor who knew him and helped take care of him could find some closure.
Staff working Friday afternoon at the Southwest Harbor Public Library, where Peterson was a frequent patron and volunteer, declined to comment on the news. In an alcove of the library, someone had placed a pail of sunflowers in a chair where Peterson, who had poor eyesight, liked to sit. Over the past year, the library staff has placed various objects in the alcove to remind them of Peterson.
On Friday afternoon, a small electric light that the library staff turns on at night in his honor and a magnifying glass sat on the windowsill, while taped to the window behind the chair was a photo of Peterson.
“Our friend is missing,” the message on the photo said. “Keep hope alive.”