HERMON, Maine — Several police agencies are in Hermon Thursday, searching for the remains of a Bangor woman missing since 1980.
The Bangor Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division, Maine State Police and Penobscot County Sheriff’s deputies were at the scene searching for any evidence related to the disappearance of Sharon Smith, who was reported missing Sept. 4, 1980.
Bangor police said Smith had been working at the Paramount Lounge on Harlow Street before her disappearance. The lounge, known for adult entertainment, was a fixture of the city’s downtown scene for decades until it closed in 1983, after failing to pay its electricity bills.
Last year, Bangor police Sgt. Dave Bushey reported that the police department had five open missing persons cases, some dating back decades, including one involving a woman named Sharon Beaudoin, who was also known as Sharon Smith or Sharon Clark.
Smith was 25 when she was reported missing.
According to police on scene, new information about the case prompted the excavation Thursday, but they did not provide specific details. A spokesman for the attorney general’s office, which investigates cold cases like Smith’s, declined to comment and referred all questions about the case to the Bangor Police Department.
The digging scene, at 147 New Boston Road, is on the site of where a small home, converted from a barn, once stood. It’s since been torn down.
The residents of another house on the property are members of the Gilks family. They confirmed to the BDN that George Gilks, who grew up in Hermon and died in 2008, was interviewed repeatedly by police over the years over a suspected role in Smith’s disappearance.
George’s brother Jim and sister Kathy, in an interview at the digging site on Thursday, said they do not believe their late brother was involved with whatever happened to Smith.
“Never could have happened here,” said Jim Gilks. “This has been gone over and gone over.”
Jim Gilks said George moved from Hermon around age 16 and went to Carmel. He only came back, Jim said, to ask for money. Kathy Gilks said George also abused alcohol and drugs. George was 57 when he died.
Kathy said George dated Sharon, whom she described as a dancer at the Paramount, for about a year before the relationship ended.
Kathy also alleged a former boyfriend saw Sharon in a vehicle in Levant weeks after her disappearance, but this sighting was not thoroughly investigated by police.
“I don’t think she’s alive, but I don’t think George had anything to do with it,” Kathy said.
Edward Thorne, a retired Bangor police detective, was at the scene of Thursday’s excavation.
He investigated Smith’s case in the 1990s, he said, after inquiries from her sister. He also indicated police had searched for Smith in Carmel in 1999, but also suspected something may have occurred on New Boston Road.
Thorne also said police received an anonymous letter several years ago that suggested Smith’s remains were on New Boston Road.
“The hope is that we’ll find remains and finally bring some closure to the family,” he said.
In addition to the excavation, police at the scene are using cadaver-sniffing dogs to sift through the dirt. Nearby, a half-dozen or so Gilks family members are watching the group dig. They were upset about rose bushes being dug up.
“They say they’ll put everything back,” Jim Gilks said.
Watch bangordailynews.com for updates.