Volunteer search parties continue to scour thickly wooded parts of Penobscot County in an effort to find a Roman Catholic priest who hasn’t been seen in more than a month, an official with the Down East Emergency Medicine Institute said Sunday.
The Rev. Clement Thibodeau, 86, last was seen leaving his apartment in Caribou on July 15. Cellphone tracking indicates that Thibodeau drove south from the Caribou area to Springfield on July 15, and then headed deep into the woods on a dirt road south of the Lee area until July 18, when his phone shut off.
The current area of focus is an area near Sysladobsis and Upper Chain lakes, according to DEEMI Operations Director Richard Bowie.
Bowie said, however, that the search area might be refined through further analysis of aerial images and cellphone “pings” by signal analysis experts with the U.S. Air Force.
Bowie said Sunday that DEEMI continues to use drone technology, aircraft equipped with high-resolution cameras and ground searches using ATVs when possible in the effort to find the missing clergyman. The Orono-based search and rescue organization and Thibodeau’s family and friends also have used social media to spread the word.
Bowie said that it’s unlikely that Thibodeau made it far from his vehicle — a gray 2013 Chevrolet Equinox with the license plate 638A — because family members have indicated that he had difficulty walking long distances.
Thibodeau’s parish assignments over the decades include St. Mary Catholic Church in Bangor, St. Mary’s in Eagle Lake, Notre Dame in Waterville and St. Joseph’s in Gardiner. He spent 17 years as a teacher at St. Ignatius High School in Sanford and taught religious studies at Nason College in Springvale, according to a previously published report.
People with information regarding Thibodeau or his vehicle should contact the Caribou Police Department at 493-3301.