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Body of Freeport man missing after Chickenfest found in Howland

Posted April 25, 2012, at 10:53 a.m.
Last modified April 25, 2012, at 7:56 p.m.
Dan Levasseur is comforted by a friend named Julie on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 after learning that the body of his son Dean Levasseur had been found by game wardens with a K-9 unit in a dense wooded area of Howland not too far from the stage area at the Chickenfest party held on Saturday, April 21, 2012.
Dan Levasseur is comforted by a friend named Julie on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 after learning that the body of his son Dean Levasseur had been found by game wardens with a K-9 unit in a dense wooded area of Howland not too far from the stage area at the Chickenfest party held on Saturday, April 21, 2012.
Dean Levasseur
Dean Levasseur
Volunteer searcher Cote Rossingnol is comforted by a woman on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 after searchers were briefed by game wardens and informed that the body of Dean Levasseur had been found in a dense area of woods not far from the point where he was last seen by band mate Josh Hunnefeld on Saturday, April 21, 2012 during the Chickenfest party in Howland.
Volunteer searcher Cote Rossingnol is comforted by a woman on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 after searchers were briefed by game wardens and informed that the body of Dean Levasseur had been found in a dense area of woods not far from the point where he was last seen by band mate Josh Hunnefeld on Saturday, April 21, 2012 during the Chickenfest party in Howland.
Law enforcement vehicles park near debris at the site of Chickenfest on Tuesday, April 24, 2012.
Law enforcement vehicles park near debris at the site of Chickenfest on Tuesday, April 24, 2012.
David Levasseur (on ground) grieves for his brother Dean Levasseur on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 along with his girlfriend beside his uncle Bill Levasseur (right) and Game Warden Ralph Hosford (left). Dean Levasseur's body was found Wednesday morning by game wardens after a two-day search involving aircraft and numerous volunteers.
David Levasseur (on ground) grieves for his brother Dean Levasseur on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 along with his girlfriend beside his uncle Bill Levasseur (right) and Game Warden Ralph Hosford (left). Dean Levasseur's body was found Wednesday morning by game wardens after a two-day search involving aircraft and numerous volunteers.
Volunteer searchers and friends of Dean Levasseur wait for news as search efforts were halted on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Game wardens with a K-9 unit found Levasseur's body in dense woods near the Chickenfest party site in Howland around 10 a.m.
Volunteer searchers and friends of Dean Levasseur wait for news as search efforts were halted on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Game wardens with a K-9 unit found Levasseur's body in dense woods near the Chickenfest party site in Howland around 10 a.m.
Searchers for the body of Dean Levasseur gather on LaGrange Road near Interstate 95's exit 217 in Howland after the body was found on Wednesday, April 25, 2012.
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Searchers for the body of Dean Levasseur gather on LaGrange Road near Interstate 95's exit 217 in Howland after the body was found on Wednesday, April 25, 2012.
Maine Forest Service Ranger Pilot Chris Blackie pilots a helicopter while searching for 24-year-old Freeport man, Dean Levasseur, on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 in Howland.
Maine Forest Service
Maine Forest Service Ranger Pilot Chris Blackie pilots a helicopter while searching for 24-year-old Freeport man, Dean Levasseur, on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 in Howland.
Searchers for the body of Dean Levasseur gather on LaGrange Road near Interstate 95's exit 217 in Howland after the body was found on Wednesday, April 25, 2012.
Nick Sambides Jr. | BDN
Searchers for the body of Dean Levasseur gather on LaGrange Road near Interstate 95's exit 217 in Howland after the body was found on Wednesday, April 25, 2012.

View Howland, Maine, 4/25/12 in a larger map

HOWLAND, Maine — Searchers found a body tentatively identified as that of missing Freeport resident Dean Levasseur shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday in thick woods several hundred yards west of the makeshift stage the 24-year-old musician was to perform on nearly four days ago.

Speaking at a press conference in a lot off Lagrange Road near Interstate 95’s Exit 217, Maine Warden Service Lt. Kevin Adam and Maine State Police Detective Sgt. John Cote could not yet offer any insights into the cause or manner of Levasseur’s death. Nor could they say much about the circumstances leading to his disappearance early Sunday.

They said that a search dog and the dog’s handler found the body in an area just outside one of the grids searchers had covered Tuesday. More than 100 people, among them members of volunteer search organizations, state police and other public safety agencies, participated in the search, Adam said.

The area searchers examined was challenging — forest that had been logged about 25 years ago that is lined with logging roads and thick with undergrowth, which greatly limited visibility, Adam said. He called the area a “nightmare” for searchers because it offered anyone lost so many possible directions of travel.

“From talking to the [search aircraft pilots], they say they can’t see the ground in a lot of places here,” Adam said Wednesday.

Sgt. Ronald Dunham of the Maine Warden Service confirmed earlier Wednesday that searchers had found what they believed to be the body of Levasseur, who went missing Saturday night after attending a party called Chickenfest, which is hosted every spring by University of Maine students at secret locations.

The last time anyone saw Levasseur was after he and his fellow bandmates from Roots, Rhythm and Dub dropped off their gear behind the makeshift stage set up for the annual party in the woods that drew 200 to 400 college-age people, Dunham said.

Several family members at the scene declined to comment immediately after the press conference.

A Levasseur family member said by telephone early Wednesday afternoon that “the family wants to be allowed to grieve privately but they want to offer their sincere thanks to all of the volunteers and agencies that helped search for Dean.”

Another family member, Nathan Oliver, the husband of Levasseur’s sister, Deirdra Levasseur Oliver, earlier posted on the Facebook page set up for searchers that those heading to the area to help no longer were needed.

“If you have made plans to travel to help the search for Dean, please do not come. Dean has been found and is deceased,” Levasseur’s brother-in-law posted just before 11 a.m. Wednesday. “We have no more information about this at this time.”

“From the deepest bottom of our hearts, thank you. Thank all of you for your unflinching and strong support. Thank you to the people who have helped in the effort to locate our very beloved Dean.”

With the discovery of the body, the investigation shifts from the Maine Warden Service to state police, Cote said. An autopsy is expected within the next few days.

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