Dorothea Burke Credit: Courtesy of Maine State Police

BELFAST, Maine — A Stockton Springs man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to the 1984 murder of Dorothea Burke during his first appearance at the Waldo Judicial Center. 

Kirt Damon Sr., 57, was arrested late Tuesday night by the Maine State Police, the same day that a Waldo County grand jury indicted him on a murder charge.  

It was not immediately clear what new evidence surfaced to prompt the Maine attorney general’s office to seek an arrest in the 36-year-old cold case. 

Kirt Damon Sr.

Burke, also of Stockton Springs, was 63 at the time of her death. She had attended a family wedding on June 23, 1984, her family told a Fox news affiliate in Bangor in 2019, and afterward went to a Bucksport bar called Priscilla’s that’s now known as Glenn’s Place. That’s where she was last seen alive, according to the website for the Maine State Police’s Unsolved Homicide Unit

Five days later, her body was found on Meadow Road in Stockton Springs. She died of blunt force trauma to the head, the news station reported.

Justice Robert Murray asked Damon during the brief arraignment hearing if he understood the charge against him, which carries a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum sentence of life in prison. Damon said he did, before pleading not guilty. 

A hearing to determine whether bail will be set for Damon is scheduled for Monday.

Two of Burke’s nieces said last year that they believed they knew who killed their aunt, identifying a man who was “in a fighting mood” and causing trouble at the wedding. They shared their suspicions with police at the time of the murder, but there wasn’t enough evidence to make an arrest, according to Fox Bangor. 

“We can’t move on,” her niece Roxanne Smith said then, adding that the pain of living with the unsolved murder has been great. 

Kirt Damon Sr. was indicted by a Waldo County grand jury and was arrested Tuesday night for the 1984 murder of Dorothea Burke. At his first court appearance on Wednesday, Damon entered a not guilty plea to murder at the Waldo Judicial Center in Belfast. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik | BDN

Smith and Pat Eaton, another of Burke’s nieces, said the family hoped the case would one day be solved, perhaps with the help of advancing technology. That would help a lot, Eaton said.   

“Justice, closure for the family, her family, for the town that loved her,” she said.  

According to the Unsolved Homicide Unit, Maine has 75 unsolved murders, with cases dating back to 1954.