January 16, 2018
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Police: Woman found dead in Penobscot River was Bucksport teacher

By Ryan McLaughlin, BDN Staff

BUCKSPORT, Maine — A woman found dead in the Penobscot River on Sunday morning has been identified as a teacher at the local middle school, police said.

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland confirmed the deceased woman is 46-year-old Traci Merriam of Bucksport.

Merriam’s body was recovered in the river Sunday morning near the Penobscot Narrows Bridge by state police and the Maine Marine Patrol.

McCausland said it appears Merriam may have jumped from the bridge sometime overnight. Her vehicle was found parked along the Route 1 span around 4 a.m., and a suicide note was found inside.

Police are investigating the death as a suicide, and an autopsy is scheduled at the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta.

James Boothby, superintendent of Regional School Unit 25, said Monday morning that Merriam taught primarily math and English language arts at Bucksport Middle School for pupils in fifth through eighth grades. He said she had taught in the Bucksport school system, and mostly at the middle school, since 1995.

Boothby said classes were being held Monday at the school but that the crisis response team has been activated and is offering counseling to people affected by Merriam’s death.

“It’s a small community,” the superintendent said. “She was very well-liked and a very effective teacher.”

It can be “very, very difficult,” to lose any member of a school’s community, whether a teacher or student or someone else, he added.

“Definitely, the loss is going to be felt by everyone in the organization,” he said.

Bangor Daily News reporter Bill Trotter contributed to this report.

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