May 21, 2019
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Four Bangor slayings remain unsolved

BANGOR, Maine — While detectives actively investigate the death of three people — two 19-year-olds and a toddler — killed in the Queen City in the past six months, they have not forgotten about the four unsolved homicides that remain on the books.

Trevor Sprague, March 7, 2006; 8-month-old Aisha Dickson in 1997; Peter J. Bassett in 1988; and Effie MacDonald in 1965 are the city’s four unsolved slayings, Sgt. Paul Edwards, the department’s spokesman, said last week.

The statute of limitations on murder cases is endless so they never officially close, but with age they often go cold, Edwards said recently.

The Sprague case is “still active,” the Dickson and Bassett cases are “open and ongoing,” and the investigation into the death of MacDonald, who was killed 44 years ago, is “dormant,” Edwards said.

With about one unsolved homicide each decade, the percentage of unresolved cases in the state’s third-largest city is relatively low, said Lt. Tim Reid, who leads Bangor Police Department’s detective division.

“Any that are unsolved are too many,” he said.

• Trevor Sprague, 34, was a transient from Lubec whose body was found burning under the Harlow Street bridge March 7, 2006. Police are releasing few details about his death, but have deemed it a homicide.

• Eight-month-old Aisha Mariah Dickson was beaten to death in a Bald Mountain Drive apartment on Jan. 6, 1995. An autopsy revealed that nearly every bone in her 11-pound body had been broken in her short life, save for her spine. Her mother, father and grandmother were in the apartment at the time of her death, but each hired a lawyer and refused to talk to police, leaving investigators little to work with.

• Peter J. Bassett, 39, was an off-duty Bangor mail carrier who was shot and killed outside Judy’s Bar and Grill on State Street on Aug. 13, 1988. Police found his body, still clothed in his postal uniform and with a gunshot wound to the head, several hours after he got off work.

• Effie MacDonald was a 54-year-old chambermaid at the Bangor House when she was raped and strangled to death by her nylons in a room on the third floor of the downtown hotel on March 18, 1965. The slaying sent a wave of terror through the community, prompted by speculation that she was killed by the Boston Strangler, whose activity in Boston was just hitting a peak in 1965.

While not considered unsolved murders, three people died during an apartment fire in downtown Bangor during February 1981 that was intentionally set, said Reid.

“Those basically are considered manslaughter,” he said last year. “Murder has to be premeditated. These people died as a result of the arson.”

Firefighters saved many of the occupants as the fire swept through the five-story McCann Building at 146 Main St. in the Brountas Block, but Jesse Eddins, Patricia Oakes and Donald Morrell perished. A small parking lot sits where the building once sat between The Tavern bar and Epi Sub and Pizza on Main Street.

Neither the arson nor manslaughter case was solved, and neither is active because the six-year statute of limitations has expired, Reid said.

Detective Brent Beaulieu is handling the Sprague case, Detective Dave Bushey is in charge of the Dickson case, and Detective Tim Cotton is the lead detective in the Bassett case, Edwards said.

Even though the Effie MacDonald case will never close, no one is assigned to pursue it, the sergeant said.

“You win some, you lose some,” Edwards said. “Maybe that will be how that one ends.”

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