LINCOLN, Maine – Police found no new evidence that would result in charges against two former Lincoln teens during a recent re-investigation of the death of a 55-year-old truck driver whose body was found downtown in 2009, Police Chief William Lawrence said Tuesday.
Detective David Cram searched for the two men, discussed the case with Maine State Police and the case’s original investigator, Deputy Patricia McLaughlin of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department, and pursued several leads before reaching his conclusion, Lawrence said.
“We were looking at any avenues of different charges being brought besides manslaughter,” Lawrence said Tuesday. “We went the drug route, the possibility of theft that led up to the man’s death, different things like that where the evidence could have taken us.
“There were some issues as far as an inability to find people involved who have probably moved on,” he added, “but we would have still come out with the same conclusion anyway.”
Lawrence announced the reopening of the 2009 investigation early last month, saying police wanted to put to rest persistent rumors about the incident.
Brian Isdell, 55, was found collapsed in a downtown parking lot on Aug. 20, 2009. He was pronounced dead at Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln a short while later.
His death and reports of a violent confrontation he had with two Lincoln teens just before his collapse led local and state police to seal off the Mechanic and Lake streets block for several hours that morning as they investigated.
The teens — who during an interview with the Bangor Daily News strongly denied any intent to physically harm Isdell — said they promised to help him buy marijuana and that one of them fought with him briefly after they had taken a carton of cigarettes from his truck.
They also said they took the trucker’s cellphone and were identified by police as persons of interest in connection with Isdell’s death.
An autopsy conducted later showed that Isdell died of natural causes brought on by heart disease and that the heart attack began several hours before the incident, as is typical.
Speaking five months after the incident and having reviewed the report prepared by McLaughlin, who was then a Lincoln police sergeant, Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said that the circumstances and evidence didn’t support criminal charges.
The autopsy ruling precluded a homicide charge, Almy said, and a robbery charge for the stolen cigarettes also would not fit. Witness statements and other evidence indicated that Isdell invited the teens into the truck in search of marijuana.
Any chance of creating new charges against anyone connected with the incident “didn’t have a high probability,” Lawrence said. “People asked us to take another look at it. We did and we are satisfied.”
Such re-investigations are part of having a detective on the department, said Lawrence, who recommended that the Town Council fund the position for the first time last year. Lawrence speculated that the rumors about the incident were driven more by shock at what happened and frustration with chronic street-level drug dealing in the parking lot where the incident occurred.
“It is a small town and you have a death right on Main Street. The teens who had been involved had been involved in numerous [minor] criminal activities,” said Lawrence, who expressed hope that the latest news would put the rumors to rest.
“A lot of those individuals that were here aren’t anymore and the activity levels there are not the same today as it was then,” Lawrence said.