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NEWBURGH, Maine — Police searching for missing Florida firefighter Jerry Perdomo discovered his body in woods off Dahlia Farm Road in Newburgh, the Maine State Police said Wednesday.
The body was found about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday on property that is owned by relatives of murder suspect Daniel Porter, 24, of Bangor. Porter was arrested Tuesday on a murder charge in the death of Perdomo, 31, after police found blood drops and skull fragments in a Jackson home rented by Porter’s father, according to a state police report released Wednesday.
The body, which was concealed, was found by a Maine game warden and his dog about half a mile from Dahlia Farm Road, near the Monroe town line, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
“This investigation remains very active,” state police Lt. Christopher Coleman said at a news conference near the scene Wednesday afternoon. “We’re not ruling out additional charges.”
A state police affidavit filed Wednesday in Waldo County Superior Court said Porter told police that Perdomo was dead and that he knew where the body and the gun used to kill him were but refused to give that information to police. Porter’s father apparently also knew the location of the body and gun but would not divulge it, the affidavit stated.
State police have said the case is a drug-related homicide. Porter told police that he owed Perdomo $3,000, the affidavit said. The two men went to the Jackson home on Feb. 16 and were playing pool when an argument broke out.
Porter said that “Perdomo began making threatening statements toward Daniel and his family,” the police report states.
It’s unclear where Perdomo went after the fight, but when Porter’s girlfriend showed up around 9 p.m. that same night, Perdomo and his car reportedly were gone.
When asked at the news conference whether diverted prescription pills were part of the case, Coleman responded by saying, “That’s one of the pieces we’re looking into.”
Perdomo, of Orange City, Fla., was a firefighter and emergency medical technician for the Seminole County fire department.
In a 2008 deposition in connection with a lawsuit he filed in Florida related to a minor car accident, Perdomo said he used painkillers after having surgery to repair a knee injury he suffered while in the Marine Corps from 2001 to 2005, according to a report in the Daytona Beach News-Journal. Perdomo said in the deposition that he helped Marines deal with drug problems as part of his duties.
“I helped with people that got, like popped on drugs and stuff like that, illegal stuff,” Perdomo said in the deposition.
Investigators searched the Jackson home this past weekend.
“Crime scene technicians found evidence of blood droplets, spatter, what appears to be a piece of skull or bone and evidence of a broken window. There were new carpets on the floor covering an area that tested presumptive positive for blood,” said the affidavit, filed by state police Detective Darryl Peary.
When police tested the blood against Perdomo’s father’s DNA for comparison, the samples were consistent with belonging to a father and offspring, the report states. Perdomo does have a brother, police wrote, but the brother told police he had never been to Maine.
When police searched the home, they also found a broken window with lead or metal pieces embedded in the window sill.
Police said previously they believed that Porter was one of the last people to have had contact with Perdomo, who went missing Feb. 16. His rental car was found abandoned at the Bangor Walmart the next day.
The two men had a tempestuous relationship, according to the affidavit.
Both Porter and Perdomo complained to the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office about the other in early January. Perdomo told police that “he observed Porter with a machine gun and that Porter threatened to shoot him and put him through a wood chipper. Porter stated that Perdomo threatened to cut his hands off and kill him,” Peary wrote.
Around that same time, Porter filed a complaint with the sheriff’s office that Perdomo had been throwing rocks through a window of his Newburgh home.
The search for Perdomo’s body began Tuesday in Jackson. Coleman, who leads the state police’s Major Crimes Unit for Northern Maine, said authorities received information from several sources that led them to Newburgh.
Ten Maine game wardens and about 20 others began searching for the body in Newburgh about 8 a.m. Wednesday. Game Warden Norman Lewis of Bryant Pond and his dog Clyde found the body around 9:30 a.m. about 150 feet off a short woods road that runs off Dahlia Farm Road, authorities said.
Coleman said that when Perdomo’s body was found, it was concealed in something. He said the entire package was sent to the medical examiner’s office in Augusta.
“That is a sterile environment” and will be where the package is opened “to preserve whatever evidence there is,” the lieutenant said.
The identification of Perdomo’s body was made Wednesday afternoon by Dr. Margaret Greenwald, Maine’s chief medical examiner. The autopsy on his body will not begin until Friday at the earliest, MaCausland said.
At the scene in Newburgh on Wednesday, Perdomo’s brother-in-law Chris Lerch of Florida told firefighters that he appreciated their efforts to find the missing man.
“What people don’t see is how much it means to us that you’re here,” he said.
“We’re a big family,” a Bangor firefighter said in response.
Newburgh resident Wendy Kennedy, who lives just up the hill from where the body was found, came outside to see what was happening with all the police Wednesday morning.
She said her husband called her about the police down the hill while she was working overnight at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast.
“I had no idea it was this close to home,” Kennedy said.
She said her family and neighbors “kind of keep to themselves” in the rural village.
But she said she knows Porter’s girlfriend, Cheyanne Nowak, 25.
“I worked with Cheyanne” at the hospital, Kennedy said. “It was a few years ago, before she had her kid. She worked in the kitchen. She was a good kid — very talkative, very friendly.”
Kennedy said she never met Porter.
Porter’s first court appearance is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday in Belfast.