Autopsy, investigation remain inconclusive in Chester fire case

Posted April 14, 2014, at 1:31 p.m.
Last modified April 14, 2014, at 5:53 p.m.

CHESTER, Maine — The cause of the fire that destroyed a Loop Road trailer and the cause of death of the woman whose body was found within it last week remain undetermined pending further investigation, officials said Monday.

An autopsy was conducted on the body of Shirley Day on Friday, but further tests are needed before it will be completed, a spokesman for the Maine chief medical examiner’s office said. Those tests might be completed as early as late this week, he said.

Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said that state police continue to investigate.

“Additional interviews need to occur as we try to zero in on the cause of the fire in the living room,” McCausland said. “There is nothing at this point to indicate any suspicion [of malfeasance] other than we still have the question as to how the fire started.”

The 77-year-old Day had just received her daily medications Thursday morning from 35-year-old Jason Ryder, her grandson, and she was beginning to nap when Ryder left to go down the road to get a newspaper, Dan Summers, Lincoln’s public safety director, has said. The fire was reported about 10 a.m. Thursday.

In the seven minutes in which Ryder ran the errand several hundred feet away to mailboxes at Loop and Gray roads, fire erupted in the home, said Summers and Joseph Worster, whose trailer is across the street from Day’s.

Worster said it would have been impossible for Ryder or anyone else to save his grandmother by then. When firefighters arrived, they found fire coming out of what appeared to be a living room window. Smoke was pouring from the eaves all along the building, Summers said.