Police charge Trenton man with murder of man last seen alive a year ago

Police redirect cars on Peakes Hill Road Thursday afternoon in Dedham.
Linda Coan O'Kresik
Police redirect cars on Peakes Hill Road Thursday afternoon in Dedham.
Posted Aug. 01, 2013, at 1:30 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 01, 2013, at 8:41 p.m.
Police line Peakes Hill Road Thursday afternoon in Dedham
Linda Coan O'Kresik
Police line Peakes Hill Road Thursday afternoon in Dedham

DEDHAM, Maine — A Trenton man was arrested and charged with murder Thursday afternoon in connection with the death of another Trenton man who was last seen alive more than a year ago, according to Maine State Police.

The body of Richard Bellittieri, 61, was found last Sunday at a property he owned on Goose Cove Road in Trenton, where Bellittieri was building a home, state police said Thursday. The skeletal remains were identified from dental records on Tuesday by the state medical examiner’s office.

State police arrested William Morse, 43, on Thursday afternoon and charged him with murder in connection with the death, according to Lt. Chris Coleman. Morse, who is being held at the Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth, is scheduled to make his first appearance in Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth at 11 a.m. Friday.

Coleman declined to release details about when or how Bellittieri allegedly was killed or how the two men knew each other.

Police were preparing to go speak with Morse on Thursday morning at a house on Peakes Hill Road about Bellittieri’s disappearance when they spotted him driving a motorcycle in nearby Holden around 7 a.m., Coleman said Thursday. They followed Morse, who was under bail conditions specifying he could not operate a motor vehicle, to the house on Peakes Hill Road. After he went inside, police obtained a search warrant for the property and made several attempts to contact him by phone, Coleman said.

Morse managed to leave the house unseen on foot, however, and around 1:30 p.m. an agent with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency spotted him a couple of miles away at the G&M Variety Market on Route 1A in Holden, Coleman said. Police then followed Morse, also known as Bill Tool, as he got a ride with a friend and headed toward Ellsworth. Officers eventually stopped the vehicle on Route 1A in Ellsworth near the new Route 180 intersection and Morse was placed under arrest.

Police executed the search warrant at the Dedham home, located across Peakes Hill Road from the Peakes Hill Lodge Banquet & Event Center, as they looked for and then arrested Morse. A dozen Maine State Police vehicles lined the side of Peakes Hill Road and members of the state police tactical team could be seen walking along the road while the search warrant was being executed.

Police declined to say what sort of connection Morse has to the property in Dedham but said they believe he has been living in the Trenton area.

Bellittieri, who owned property in Trenton and in the Mount Desert village of Hall Quarry, last was seen alive at the Goose Cove Road property in Trenton in June 2012, according to Coleman. The lieutenant said no one had reported Belliettieri missing in the past year, but his disappearance recently was discovered by the Bar Harbor Police Department, which contacted state police about the the matter around mid-July.

A neighbor of the Trenton property where Bellittieri’s remains were found last weekend declined Thursday evening to comment on the matter.

A former tenant of Bellittieri’s said Thursday that Morse and Bellittieri knew each other because Morse helped Bellittieri with odd jobs, including carpentry work on Bellittieri’s unfinished home in Trenton.

Matt Stilphen rented a room at Bellittieri’s Hall Quarry house in May and June of 2012. Stilphen said that Bellittieri was at the Hall Quarry house frequently, but often stayed at the Trenton property.

Stilphen said he saw the two men make verbal jabs at each other, but never saw them have any heated disagreements.

“I don’t think they had known each other that long,” said Stilphen, who now lives in the Freeport area. “They were an interesting duo.”

Morse, Stilphen said, appeared to lead an itinerant lifestyle, while Bellittieri was more settled in the area, though he had no family members around. He said Bellittieri, who was from the New York City area, was eccentric, smart and a “minimalist” who preferred raw food over cooked meals.

“He was into esoteric jazz and books and stuff,” Stilphen said. “He really didn’t talk too much about his past [but] I don’t think he would have rubbed anybody the wrong way.”

What “boggles my mind,” Stilphen added, is that Bellittieri could go missing for a year without anyone noticing or reporting it. Bellittieri, who had an accounting background, helped people prepare their taxes and helped prospective college students apply for financial aid, his former tenant said.

“Rick wasn’t a shut-in or anything like that,” Stilphen said.

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said Thursday that detectives are seeking anyone who had contact with him before he disappeared last summer. Police also want to talk to anyone who had contact with Morse in the past year.

Anyone with information is asked to call the state police in Orono at 866-2122.

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