Virginia Sue Pictou Noyes disappeared more than 26 years ago, but her family has not stopped looking for her.
Noyes, then 26, traveled to Bangor with her husband, Larry Noyes, and two other people, according to a Maine State Police description of the case. The four people became “extremely intoxicated,” according to police, and Larry Noyes allegedly assaulted Virginia.
Virginia was taken to Bangor’s Eastern Maine Medical Center and left before doctors completed a checkup. She had told police she needed to return to her five children in Easton, and she apparently made it part of the way there. She was last seen walking through the parking lot of a truck stop in Houlton.
Larry Noyes was arrested and charged with domestic assault before he made bail and was released. He was one of two suspects in Virginia’s disappearance, though he was never charged before his death last year.
Last spring, Virginia’s family hired a private investigator to follow up on some new information they received via a Facebook page, said Noyes’ brother, Robert Pictou of Terrace, British Columbia.
“You feel that if you don’t take up the cause you won’t ever find that person,” he said. “We’ve followed up on every lead that was possible.”
Noyes’ family is one of more than 130 who have gone through some variation of the same struggle. Since 1965, those families have had loved ones go missing in Maine, and they haven’t had closure. They see little progress as the investigations continue.
On Saturday, Maine’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is hosting the first ever Maine Missing Person Day. The event, targeting families of missing people and others, aims to raise awareness about those have gone missing in Maine, offer information on how authorities conduct missing person searches, and describe the feelings of grief and loss family members experience. It takes place at the Augusta Armory on Western Avenue from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Missing people do not get a lot of attention once their search is out of the news, but the families deal with this every day,” said Lindsey Chasteen from the medical examiner’s office.
At the event, a Maine Warden Service lieutenant will describe what to do when lost in the woods. A Maine State Police representative will explain how searches for missing people are conducted. A psychologist will talk about dealing with grief and loss.
“I’ve had family members reach out asking for support groups or any events like this,” Chasteen said.
The medical examiner’s office in Maine is the “clearinghouse” for missing people. The office is responsible for maintaining the biometric evidence that would be needed to identify any remains found.
“There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes that nobody knows about,” Chasteen said.
But it won’t be enough for the families of those who are missing until their loved ones are found.
The reason Virginia Sue Pictou Noyes’ family hired a private investigator and organized searches is because they believe Maine does not have enough resources to invest in investigating the cases of missing people, said Robert Pictou, Virginia’s brother.
“They say it’s under active investigation, but is it?” he said. “As families, we don’t see them talking to anyone. We don’t see them investigating these things.”