BANGOR, Maine — Authorities will not release the names of the three homicide victims found dead in a burned-out car in Bangor early this week until DNA testing is complete, according to the Maine attorney general’s office.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said Thursday officials were still waiting for the results of the DNA testing, which might not be completed this week, before confirming the victims’ identities.
“I think the likelihood is early next week,” Benson said.
Bangor police and the state medical examiner’s office reiterated Thursday that they don’t expect to release the identities of the victims until Friday or early next week.
Benson said investigators also wouldn’t be releasing information about the manner in which the three people found inside the car died. The attorney general’s office took over the case shortly after the three autopsies were completed Tuesday.
“The cause of death is going to be withheld during the investigation, which is something that happens nine-tenths of the time,” Benson said.
The bodies were still being held Thursday afternoon at the medical examiner’s office in Augusta. They are awaiting identification before families can be notified and the bodies released, according to Brandy Desrosier of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
A white 2001 Pontiac with Rhode Island plates was engulfed in flames when it was discovered by a woman on her way to work about 3:30 a.m. Monday in the back parking lot of Automatic Distributors, located at 22 Target Industrial Circle.
After the flames were extinguished, firefighters found three bodies that were burned beyond recognition. No one was in the driver’s seat, according to photos taken by the Bangor Daily News on Monday.
A person walking away from the burning car appeared in video surveillance images taken from Automatic Distributors, an employee and Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards have said.
While police try to confirm the identities of the victims and piece together evidence, people who think their relatives and friends might be among the victims are awaiting confirmation from authorities.
Four people who believe the victims are friends of theirs arrived at the scene of the car fire Monday night after talking to Bangor police detectives. They said they feared that their friends were dead because the friends got into a white Pontiac with Rhode Island plates after leaving a birthday party early Monday and afterward no one was able to get in touch with them.
Bangor resident Shannon Lee, who believes the father of her daughter and the sister of his girlfriend were in the burned-out car, said she brought her daughter to the police station Tuesday morning to provide a DNA sample.
Instead, police asked her to describe her ex’s tattoos and where they were located.
“They said at this point they probably didn’t need the DNA,” Lee said.
Another woman, a longtime friend of the 25-year-old sister believed to have been in the car, said the sister was identified by a metal plate in her arm.
She said the woman’s sister left the birthday party early because she didn’t feel well but expected her sister and her boyfriend, who fathered Lee’s child, to arrive later at her home.
For some reason the sister awoke at 4 a.m. and found they were not at the house. She called Lee about 5:30 a.m. to see if he was at her home.
“It just doesn’t make sense,” Lee said. “I just don’t understand.”
“The investigation is continuing,” Benson said Thursday.
Edwards and Benson said investigators have received numerous tips from the public but continue to urge anyone who might have information about the Pontiac and its occupants to call police.
Those with information about the investigation may call the Bangor Police Department at 947-7382. The department’s anonymous tip line can be reached by pressing ext. 6.
Bangor Daily News writer Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.