Man who allegedly stole ID of dead man indicted on murder charge

William Morse is escorted into the courtroom at the Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth last Friday for his first appearance. Morse is charged with allegedly killing Trenton resident Richard Bellittieri.
William Morse is escorted into the courtroom at the Hancock County Superior Court in Ellsworth last Friday for his first appearance. Morse is charged with allegedly killing Trenton resident Richard Bellittieri. Buy Photo
Posted Aug. 09, 2013, at 9:33 a.m.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A man from New York state who police say killed a man whose remains recently were found in the woods in Trenton was indicted Thursday by a Hancock County grand jury.

William Morse, 43, of Fishkill, N.Y., was indicted on a charge of murder in connection with the death of Richard Bellittieri, whose skeletal remains were found July 28 by police in Trenton under a pile of potting soil topped by a large cut tree.

Bellittieri, 61, owned and was in the process of building a condominium building on the Goose Cove Road property where his bones were found less than two weeks ago. Police have not indicated when or where Bellittieri died, but in an affidavit filed by Maine State Police in Hancock County Superior Court, investigators say his remains bore four gunshot wounds — two to the head and one each to his thigh and foot.

Bar Harbor police and detectives with Maine State Police became concerned with Bellittieri’s whereabouts roughly a month ago after Bar Harbor police stopped Morse as part of a drunken driving investigation and discovered that Morse had Bellittieri’s Social Security card, driver’s license and bank cards. The Audi A6 Morse was driving when police stopped him was registered in Bellittieri’s name, according to the police affidavit.

According to police, Morse is the only person they have talked to about Bellittieri who claimed to have seen Bellittieri since last summer. An Ellsworth woman and friend of Bellittieri contacted police nine months ago because she could not get in touch with him, but the inquiry seems to have been stymied by Morse’s alleged impersonation of the dead man.

The woman, Pauline Buie, said Tuesday that at her request, Mount Desert police contacted tenants at a Hall Quarry house that Bellittieri owned, who then passed her message on to their landlord. Buie said she never heard back from Bellittieri, but she assumed he was too busy to contact her.

It wasn’t until last month, after Bar Harbor and state police became interested in Bellittieri’s whereabouts, that the tenants found out that the man they thought was their landlord was Morse, not Bellittieri. When Brianna Alley and Peter Neblett responded to an online rental ad last fall, Morse met them and introduced himself as Richard Bellittieri, they have said.

Up until Morse’s arrest on Aug. 1, they paid him $500 in cash rent around the beginning of every month except one. In February, when the tenants were short on cash, Morse asked Neblett instead to register a Volkswagen Jetta in Neblett’s name, which Neblett did, according to police.

State police have indicated that Morse also may have passed himself off as Bellittieri when he was stopped for speeding in Southwest Harbor in January 2013 and in voicemail messages left last month for Bar Harbor and Maine State Police officials. Morse also is accused of withdrawing thousands of dollars from Bellittieri’s bank account, according to the state police affidavit.

Morse made his initial appearance last week on the murder charge in Hancock County Superior Court and is being held at Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth. A hearing to set bail for Morse has not been scheduled because, according to his defense attorney, Jeff Toothaker of Ellsworth, whatever bail amount that a judge would set would be too high for Morse to be able to pay it.

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