BANGOR, Maine — With Saturday’s fatal stabbing in the Queen City, there are two unsolved homicides on the books for Maine in 2012 that can be added to the two open homicide cases from 2011 still being investigated.
“Those are still working investigations,” Assistant Attorney General William Stokes, head of the criminal division in the Maine attorney general’s office, said Monday.
Maine had 24 homicides in 2012, down four from the 28 in 2011, according to data compiled by Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, and the Bangor Daily News. There are 27 people charged with murder or manslaughter awaiting trials in Maine in connection with killings that date back to 1976.
In addition to the four unsolved homicides in the last two years, there are approximately 130 other homicide, suspicious death and missing person cases — including the investigation of missing Waterville toddler Ayla Reynolds — that remain unresolved through the decades, according to Assistant Attorney General Lara Nomani, who is tasked with reviewing the state’s unsolved homicides.
“I have close to 100 unsolved and close to another 30 that would fall into the missing person/suspicious death category,” she said, adding, “Those are my categories.”
Cases do not arrive on her desk before they are at least approximately 2 years old, Nomani said.
Jeffrey LeBlanc, 34, was stabbed in the abdomen on Elm Street in Bangor early Saturday and later died at Eastern Maine Medical Center in what his pregnant wife said was a crime related to the drug bath salts.
Bangor police detectives continue to investigate but are releasing few details about what they think happened during the stabbing, which left a long trail of blood in the snow outside the two-unit apartment building.
Matthew Blanchard, 24, was shot to death along India Street in Portland on July 11 while out with three other men, two of whom also were wounded by gunfire. Portland police still are looking for witnesses or others with information about the killing to come forward.
Another shooting in the state’s largest city, on Aug. 1, 2011, is considered an unsolved homicide.
Portland resident Allen MacLean, 41, apparently went to a party on outer Congress Street and was shot in the chest about 4:30 a.m. and died on a sidewalk in front of a gas station across the street.
Police scoured the city looking for a suspect and witnesses in the predawn shooting death, but have released few details in the following 16 months.
“They are all open investigations,” Portland police Sgt. Dean Goodale said Monday of the unsolved homicides, explaining why he could not release any information.
The body of Samantha Folsom, 26, originally from Greene, was found by her parents in a closet inside her Lewiston apartment on Nov. 19, 2011, and is the fourth unresolved homicide in the last two years. Few details about her death have ever been released, including how she died.
Local police indicated last year that they were searching for at least one person of interest. A sergeant with Lewiston Police Department said Tuesday that he wasn’t aware of any movement on the case, and referred all questions to his lieutenant.
China resident James Dodge, 38, who was mortally stabbed in the chest on July 13, 2012 at his home originally was on the list of unsolved homicides, but that case has been resolved, Stokes said.
“We’ve declined prosecution on the grounds of evidence of self defense,” he said.
Three other people were in the house at the time of the stabbing, officials have said.
Waterville toddler Ayla Reynolds, who went missing from her father’s home on Dec. 17, 2011, falls into the missing person/suspicious death category, Nomani said.
The attorney general’s office years ago hired Nomain, a former drug prosecutor, to review and analyze the state’s cold cases, under the direction of Stokes.
“There is about 12 that we’ve been about to successfully bring [to prosecution] in the last dozen or so years,” he said.
The October arrest of Gary Sanford Raub, 63, who was going by the name Gary Robert Wilson in 1976, is one cold case that today’s technology led to an arrest in 2012.
Raub was caught in Seattle and charged with murdering Blanche M. Kimball, whose body was found stabbed repeatedly in her Augusta home on or around June 12, 1976. Police matched his DNA to the homicide scene because he took part in an undercover “chewing gum survey” that police staged in July.
“The DNA is getting even more sensitive as we speak,” Stokes said.
It was much different 30 years ago, he said.
Both Stokes and Nomain said working cold cases is not as easy as it looks on the television show that bears the same name. Whenever a new cold case is reopened, it’s like starting all over again with compiling the evidence — often some is missing or in several different locations — and rounding up witnesses, which gets harder as time goes by and people move or die.
“It’s incredibly painstaking,” Nomain said. “You have to keep your eye on the ball long-term.”
The work may be arduous, but the payoff — being able to tell family members of the dead that their case is solved — is well worth the effort, Stokes said.
“We owe it to the families of the victims,” he said. “We’re not going to let these close out — they never close.”