February 13, 2013

Human remains could be missing Maine students

Bones that washed up on an island off Kennebunkport may belong to boat-building students last seen in December.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNKPORT — The state Medical Examiner's Office is doing tests to determine whether bones that washed up on an island off Kennebunkport during last weekend's blizzard are those of two boat-building students who were last seen Dec. 19 in Kennebunkport.

click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

In this file photo, Maine Warden Service Sgt. Tim Spahr searches the water near near Goat Island Lighthouse off Cape Porpoise on Monday, Dec. 24, 2012. The remains of Zachary Wells and Prescott Wright may have washed ashore during the weekend blizzard.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

A resident who was walking a dog Sunday afternoon found the remains on the southern side of Vaughn Island, which is at the mouth of Turbot's Creek, said Kennebunkport Police Chief Craig Sanford.

The Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that the remains are human, Sanford said, but it probably will have to use DNA analysis to determine whether they are the remains of Zachary Wells, 21, of Burlington, Vt., and Prescott Wright, 23, of Barnstable, Mass.

Although the identity of the remains has not been confirmed, no other people have been reported missing in that area.

"I did talk to the family and notify them that remains were found," Sanford said. "I can't say they are, in fact, either of their sons."

He said, "They already had funeral services and memorials. I can only imagine it must be very heart-wrenching."

Wells and Wright were last seen drinking with friends at a gathering at Wells's house near the Cape Porpoise pier on Dec. 19.

On Christmas Eve, searchers found items that they believe belonged to the men on a ledge near Goat Island, which is off Trott Island near Cape Porpoise.

The items included two life jackets, two pairs of jeans, a jacket, a sweatshirt and footwear. They were found about three-quarters of a mile from the back side of Vaughn Island.

The search, which involved people and dogs on the ground, airplanes, and boats with sonar, was called off Dec. 26.

Sanford said it is remarkable that the remains might have stayed near the shore, rather than washing out to sea.

They were found above the high-tide mark, suggesting they were deposited there during the storm, which generated 25- to 30-foot seas and caused flooding during high tide, Sanford said.

Although the case has remained open, both families have held funerals.

They gathered at The Landing School on Jan. 12 for a memorial service with the men's classmates and the school's staff.

"We were able to memorialize the boys and move on from there," said the school's president, Robert DeColfmacker. "Our plans are to continue whatever we can do to support the families and move on as a school community here."

Family members, notified by police about Sunday's discovery, asked for privacy Monday.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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