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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.

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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.

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“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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