December 31, 2013

Rail disaster, ‘North Pond Hermit,’ the missing topped this year’s Waterville-area stories

It was a busy year in central Maine as residents responded to the runaway train explosion in Quebec, dealt with tragedies and triumphs here at home

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Topping the list of major 2013 stories for the region were Maine’s response to a catastrophic rail disaster, a brutal murder in the rural town of Detroit, the emergence of the man dubbed the North Pond Hermit, new hospital construction and the arrival of natural gas pipelines.

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INVESTIGATION CONTINUES: Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, is surrounded by law enforcement officers and media during a press conference on Nike Lane in Oakland on Oct. 22 following a search for missing toddler Ayla Reynolds.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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ADMISSION: Christopher Knight sits in the Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta in November while entering pleas for multiple burglaries and thefts while living in the woods of Rome for 27 years. The man dubbed by the media the North Pond Hermit agreed to plead guilty in exchange for receiving an alternative sentence with the Co-Occurring Disorders Court, a special, intensive supervision program where he will live and work in the community while reporting weekly to a judge.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

Additional Photos Below

Related headlines

Rail disaster

Maine residents rallied to help their neighbors just over the border in Quebec after a runaway oil train derailed, exploded and burned much of downtown Lac-Megantic in July. The derailment and fire of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railways train killed 47 people.

A Farmington-based fundraising effort called the Lac-Megantic Relief Fund raised $38,851 for its partner community. In addition, the Rangeley Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce raised $17,000 for the community and the Farmington library donated $3,000. The bidding process to sell the railroad was still underway at year’s end.

Natural gas

Natural gas wars heated up this year as the fuel started flowing this month from a Maine Natural Gas pipeline to Augusta’s first residence to be heated by natural gas. The Brunswick-based Maine Natural Gas is a subsidiary of Iberdrola USA, which also owns Central Maine Power Co.

Meanwhile, Summit Natural Gas of Maine, which is competing for customers in Augusta and building a pipeline from Windsor, through Augusta, north to the paper mill in Madison, was notified of a $72 million lawsuit by one of its contractors. Work has stalled and deadlines have been missed.

The ‘North Pond Hermit’

Christopher T. Knight, dubbed the North Pond Hermit, who spent decades living alone in the woods not far from the camps he repeatedly robbed, gained national and international attention in 2013. Knight, 48, was arrested in April on burglary and theft charges involving 1,000 or more burglaries. Knight told investigators he lived for 27 years in the woods of North, East and Little North ponds in the Rome and Smithfield area.

Knight told police he burglarized unoccupied camps at night, carrying off propane tanks, tools, batteries, sleeping bags, food and occasionally beer.

Knight, who spend about six months in jail, pleaded guilty to a handful of charges and now is out of jail and living in the community while participating in a special program that requires him to appear in front of a judge once a week.

Missing, found alive

Nicholas Joy, 17, was skiing at Sugarloaf March 3 when he went off a trail on the back of the mountain and got lost.

The Medford, Mass., teenager was missing for two days as searchers combed the mountain and surrounding area looking for him. Joy wandered in circles, but eventually built himself a snow cave to protect himself from the elements.

He was found two days later by a Massachusetts snowmobiler who grew up in Maine and was familiar with the area. The snowmobiler, Joseph Paul, spotted Joy’s tracks in the snow and brought him out of the woods.

In September, Arthur Wakeman, an 86-year-old Benton resident who spent two stormy, wet nights in the woods near his home in September, was found alive and taken to a Waterville hospital. Family members did not say why he disappeared.

Joslyn Retamozzo, 7, and Joel Retamozzo, 6, were found unharmed in August in South Carolina more than 1,100 miles from Waterville, where they were taken. Their mother, BethMarie Retamozzo, who does not have custody of them, faces a criminal restraint by a parent charge.

Missing, found dead

Vaughn Giggey III, 40, was found dead several days after he went for a nighttime walk in August to his mother’s home in Skowhegan. His death did not look suspicious and he was found in a small stream in rugged woods near his home, according to police. There is still no word on the cause and manner of death.

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Additional Photos

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NEW DIGS: The new Waterville Police Department shown as it neared completion earlier this year. The department moved into the station in July.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

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New hospital: MaineGeneral Medical Center’s Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care in Augusta is shown in September 2007. At right is the MaineGeneral Medical Caneter as it neared completion. The hospital opened in November.

Staff photos bu Joe Phelan and Andy Molloy

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Staff photo by Andy Molloy HARNISH: Courtney Shea appeared in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta on Thursday for a hearing on the murder charge he faces for allegedly killing Thomas Namer. Namer, 69, of Waterville was discovered at an abandoned trailer in late November next to the Vassalboro home that Shea, 30, shared with his family.

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Railway Explosion: Crude oil tankers from the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic railways are seen in the heart of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where the runaway train exploded killing 47 in July.

Associated Press

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Railway Explosion: Crude oil tankers from the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic railways are seen in the heart of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where the runaway train exploded killing 47 in July.

Associated Press

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Missing skier: Nicholas Joy, 17, of Medford, Mass., is led to an ambulance in March after spending two nights lost near Sugaloaf ski area.

Staff photo by David Leaming

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