SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Human remains found here last week could be those of a Southwest Harbor man who has been missing for almost a year.
Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland confirmed Tuesday that human remains were found on Aug. 25, near the Village at Ocean’s End subdivision on Main Street. The remains were taken to the state medical examiner’s office for identification.
One of the possibilities is that the remains are of 61-year-old Pete Peterson, who was reported missing by his caregiver on Sept. 24 of last year. A spokesman at the medical examiner’s office said it could be days before a positive identification can be made.
Mr. McCausland said state police detectives are aware of Mr. Peterson’s disappearance but would not speculate on whether the remains are his. He declined to give any information about clothing or other articles found with the remains.
“I don’t want to get into the specifics of what was found,” Mr. McCausland said.
Mr. McCausland said a landowner found the remains. Reached by telephone Wednesday, Village at Ocean’s End owner Jeff Crafts declined to discuss the situation, saying all questions should be addressed to Southwest Harbor police. Southwest Harbor Police Chief Dave Chapais would say only that state police detectives are handling the case.
Southwest Harbor police, state game wardens and Acadia National Park rangers searched the Village at Ocean’s End property within days of Mr. Peterson’s disappearance, acting on a tip that he had been seen walking in the area. Despite the use of search dogs and the dragging of retention ponds at the subdivision, no trace of the missing man was found.
Mr. Peterson was a familiar figure in Southwest Harbor and on Mount Desert Island, where he could often be seen hitchhiking. His disappearance was met with concern by townspeople, many of whom helped look after him through the years. Several searches, including one conducted this spring, were organized, and prayer vigils were held. The Southwest Harbor Public Library, where Mr. Peterson was a daily visitor, offered a reward for any information leading to his whereabouts.
Carolyn Dyer, who is an administrative assistant at the library, was Mr. Peterson’s caretaker for the past eight years or so, helping to manage his money and tending to other details such as making sure he got to medical appointments and that his apartment, where he lived alone, was clean. Although not diagnosed as autistic, Ms. Dyer has said he did exhibit autistic tendencies – he was very bright but socially awkward.
Library director Candy Emlen said Tuesday she and her staff have been frustrated with having no knowledge of what happened to their friend.
“It’s horrible not to know,” Ms. Emlen said. “It’s been tormenting not to know because your imagination runs away with you.”
The library scheduled a “Remembrance for Pete” potluck dinner for Sunday evening, long before the body was found Aug. 25. The event was canceled because of the impending storm from Hurricane Irene and has been rescheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at the Harbor Ridge Resort clubhouse on Freeman Ridge Road. Ms. Emlen said the event is still taking place as planned. Librarians are asking for donations of food for the potluck. For more information, call the library at 244-7065.