Search to continue Wednesday for missing Freeport man last seen at Chickenfest

Family members and friends of Dean Levasseur embrace on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 before they embark on a search for the missing man as a Maine Forest Service helicopter passes over head near the spot where Levasseur was last seen in Howland at Chickenfest on Saturday.
Kevin Bennett | BDN
Family members and friends of Dean Levasseur embrace on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 before they embark on a search for the missing man as a Maine Forest Service helicopter passes over head near the spot where Levasseur was last seen in Howland at Chickenfest on Saturday.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Posted April 24, 2012, at 12:22 p.m.

HOWLAND, Maine — A ground and air search for a Freeport man who went missing over the weekend after attending a college party in the woods ended Tuesday evening without success but authorities and family members plan to renew their efforts Wednesday morning.

Maine game wardens and state police were joined by about four dozen family members, friends and volunteers as they searched the woods off Lagrange Road on Tuesday for Dean Levasseur, 24, who went missing after attending Saturday’s Chickenfest, a party hosted every spring by University of Maine students at secret locations.

Down East Emergency Medicine Institute, a nonprofit search-and-rescue group based in Orono, also was on scene with volunteers and supplies for those trudging through the dense forest searching for Levasseur.

Lt. Kevin Adam of the Maine Warden Service told a group of searchers about 5 p.m. that the search would resume Wednesday morning.

“There has been no clues that we can attribute to anything,” he said. “There is nothing that says he’s here and nothing to say he’s not here.”

The Maine Search and Rescue Association, a volunteer group of trained searchers, has been called in to search the area Wednesday and a command center will be set up in a gravel pit near the highway for those who want to help, Adam said.

In addition to the 50 or so volunteer searchers, four Maine State Police troopers, four forest rangers and five game wardens were at the scene on Tuesday, he said.

“We’re meeting at 7 tomorrow morning,” Levasseur’s father, Dan, told the group a short time after getting a private briefing by Adam.

“They haven’t seen anything and it looks like he’s in the woods,” the elder Levasseur said. “There is a maze of roads down there. He could have really gotten turned around and that’s why we need help tomorrow.”

Levasseur said his son has not used his bank card since he went missing, which leads officials to believe he is still in the woods.

Dean Levasseur arrived at the Chickenfest party with a group of friends and was supposed to play with his band at around 11 p.m. Saturday but was nowhere to be found, said Sgt. Ronald Dunham of the Maine Warden Service.

The last time anyone saw Levasseur was while he was standing behind the makeshift stage set up for the annual party in the woods that drew 200 to 400 college-age people, Dunham said.

“That was 9:30 p.m. Saturday,” the sergeant said, adding the area is littered with broken alcohol bottles and drug paraphernalia. Zig-Zag rolling papers and what appeared to be several empty drug packages were visible at the scene Tuesday.

Josh Hunnefeld, a University of Maine student, said he, Levasseur and the others in their band, Roots, Rhythm and Dub, arrived together Saturday.

“We all showed up together. We walked about 2½ miles through the woods to get there” because police had blocked the entrance, said Hunnefeld, a friend of Levasseur’s for four years. “We followed the music. We dropped off our gear behind the stage and haven’t seen him after that.”

About an hour after arriving, Levasseur’s bandmates took the stage and called for Dean to come play his guitar, but he never showed.

“It was just weird he didn’t show up to play,” Hunnefeld said.

The next morning Hunnefeld said he started to worry when Levasseur’s guitar hadn’t been picked up from behind the stage.

“It just didn’t feel right,” he said.

When Levasseur didn’t show up to play with his band, “they assumed he was back at my house,” said Cote Rossignol of Hudson, one of the searchers who went into the woods with Levasseur’s father and uncle on Tuesday.

“He stayed at my house Friday night,” Rossignol said, describing Dean Levasseur as a good man who kept to himself.

About 12 hours after Levasseur went missing, Hunnefeld got so worried that he started calling police and hospitals.

“I’m just hoping he’s not out in the woods with a broken leg waiting to be found,” his bandmate said.

Levasseur knows his way around the forest, Hunnefeld and Levasseur’s mother, Deanna Cyr, both said.

“He’s a County boy so he knows how to play in the woods,” Hunnefeld said.

“I’m worried,” Cyr said. “I’m extremely worried.”

Dan Levasseur said he appreciated what people — including some strangers — were doing to help find his son.

“I want to thank everyone,” he said.

The missing man’s brother David Levasseur, his father and uncles and aunts gathered at the search area Tuesday morning and a Maine Forest Service helicopter was in the sky all day. A fixed-wing aircraft joined the search around 4 p.m.

“There is family here — from all over,” one family member said.

Freeport police issued an attempt-to-locate notice for Dean Levasseur after he could not be found after Chickenfest. He is described as 5 feet, 6 inches tall with brown hair and blue eyes. He weighs approximately 145 pounds and last was seen wearing a green jacket and bluejeans.

Family members posted comments on the Bangor Daily News website about the search with a link to a Facebook page with details for volunteer searchers.

Gerald and Lisa St. Cyr of Enfield saw the post and were part of a search team Tuesday.

“We wanted to help out,” Gerald St. Cyr said. “I can’t imagine what the family is going through. We’re praying for them and are here to help.”

Dean Levasseur sent a text message early Sunday morning, but it gave no indication of any problems, Dunham said, declining to say what was in the message.

The last time Levasseur’s cellphone was used was later Sunday morning.

“There was an attempt by the phone to make contact with a cellphone tower,” Dunham said, but it was unsuccessful.

The phone’s battery died or it was turned off or damaged and was no longer working, the sergeant said.

The closest cellphone tower is about four miles away.

“This is the last place we knew where he was,” Dunham said. “Our hope is he’s somewhere with friends and doesn’t know he’s missing.”

Several family members waiting to search the woods for their loved one Tuesday echoed Dunham’s sentiment.

“That’s what we’re hoping,” an aunt said.

Dan Levasseur said the search for his son is the hardest thing he has ever done.

“This is the toughest,” the missing man’s father said. “I don’t know if I should be here. I’m not a good searcher.”

Still, he lined up with his group and re-entered the woods several times throughout the day.

Anyone with information about Levasseur’s whereabouts is urged to call the Orono State Police barracks at 866-2121.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/04/24/news/penobscot/family-friends-search-howland-woods-for-missing-freeport-man-last-seen-at-chickenfest/ printed on July 29, 2014