WOODLAND, Maine — In July, Maine State Police arrested and charged a Presque Isle man with murder, thirteen years after his alleged victim had gone missing.
It was good news for the family and friends of Starlette Vining, who had always wondered what had happened to their loved one. George Jaime Sr., 75, charged with intentional or knowing murder in Vining’s death, remains in jail awaiting trial.
And as the year comes to a close, a Woodland family is hoping for similar action in a murder case that has been unsolved for nearly five years.
State police said Monday that detectives are still working diligently to bring to justice the killer of Darrel Smith, 56, who was murdered inside the sawmill he operated adjacent to his home on Feb. 6, 2008.
Shortly after the four-year anniversary, the reward for information leading police to the killer of Darrel Smith rose from $40,000 to $60,000.
“We are still actively pursuing any and all leads,” State police Detective Micah Perkins said Monday afternoon. “Detective Adam Stoutamyer continues to work hard on this case. As of yet, though, there have been no arrests.”
Smith was alone when someone walked into his small sawmill on Thomas Road in Woodland, robbed him and shot him to death, according to police. The shooter left Smith’s body for his wife, Barbara, to find.
Smith owned and operated Smith’s Sawmill and Logging, which was next to his home in this community of about 1,400 adjacent to Caribou in Aroostook County.
State police said Smith was shot to death in the early afternoon, and they believe robbery may have been the motive. He was found dead inside his workshop in the evening.
Smith’s wallet was taken and a safe was missing from the residence.
Since Smith had no signs advertising the establishment and word of mouth was used to secure business, police believe that his killer or killers had to be familiar with the sawmill, which looks like a private residence. Police believe the perpetrator or perpetrators also knew that Smith was running a cash-only business and would have money on hand.
Police have not released details about the crime scene or said whether there were signs of a struggle. They have recovered the safe and the weapon used to kill Smith, but will not comment on where the items were found. The results of lab tests conducted on evidence submitted to the state police Crime Lab and the FBI also have not been made public.
Police have consistently characterized Smith as a simple, hardworking man who was well liked. No one has come forward to give police the name of any enemy he might have had. Investigators have looked at the family and those close to the victim and eliminated them as suspects.
Police continue to look for the driver of a small, dark pickup truck that was seen on Thomas Road around noon the day of the shooting. The vehicle had its hazard lights on and the hood was up, indicating the truck may have been having mechanical trouble. Police said the truck remains an interest to them, as they want to know whether it played a role in the case.
Perkins said Monday that police remain in frequent contact with Smith’s family to discuss the investigation.
Among older cases classified as homicides in Aroostook County that remain unsolved are:
• In March 1977, Lila Drew, a retired teacher, was found bludgeoned to death in her home in Masardis.
• In 1985, a newborn baby girl was found dead in the woods in Frenchville. Baby Jane Doe’s identity and those of her parents are unknown.
• In 1994, Joseph Savitch and Louis Alexander were reported missing. Their bodies were discovered in a wooded area in Masardis in August 1997. Their deaths were classified as homicides and have not been solved.
Members of the public who have any information about these or other crimes are encouraged to call the Maine State Police at 800-924-2261 or Crime Stoppers at 800-638-TIPS.