HARMONY — What began as an innocent bird-watching adventure to see an elusive blue heron Saturday morning ended up with the discovery of a woman’s body in a small brook.
Late Sunday, police were still trying to unravel the mystery of how the woman died and who she was.
A father and his 10-year-old son, whom police won’t identify, discovered the body in the waters of Whitehouse Brook on Trafton Road, according to Maine State Police spokesman Stephen McCausland. Although police are releasing few details, they confirmed the case is a homicide.
Trafton Road is farmland and woodland, outside the center of town near the Wellington town line. There are several homes in the area of the brook where the body was found.
The body carried no identification, and the state medical examiner conducted an autopsy Sunday afternoon. The result of that autopsy and the cause of the woman’s death were being withheld.
“We still have not identified the victim,” confirmed McCausland, “but this is a homicide.” He would not reveal, “for investigatory reasons,” how long the woman had been at the Trafton Road location or what caused her death.
McCausland said the autopsy revealed the woman was between 25 and 35 years old, was 4 feet 9 inches tall and weighed just 88 pounds. She was fully clothed and he would not say whether she was sexually assaulted. She was Caucasian, with shoulder-length curly brown hair and brown eyes.
“Our priority right now is determining her identity,” he said.
Eight detectives worked at the scene on Saturday and spent much of Sunday sifting through missing-persons reports, both in and out of state. No one fitting the woman’s description has been reported missing in Maine, he said.
He would not say how long the woman’s body had been in the woods nor whether police believe she was killed in Harmony or her body was left there. No weapon was found, said McCausland.
Anyone with information that might be helpful may call the Maine State Police at 1-800-452-4664.
“She certainly wasn’t anyone from around here,” said Rosie Carlow, a longtime Harmony resident.
“We all know each other and we’d know if it was one of us,” she said. Harmony has a population of just under 1,000 residents.
This tiny Somerset County town is the last place anyone would expect violence. Harmony residents were in shock this weekend with the discovery of the body.
“This is a very close community,” said Carlow, who with her husband and children has lived in Harmony more than 20 years.
“Everyone knows everyone and if there is a death, or someone gets hurt, you know. There’s a community dinner. We look out for each other,” she said.
Paul Herrick, president of the Harmony Historical Society, said he knows of only two previous murders in his town, both more than 100 years ago, both occurring just before the turn of the century.
Herrick recalled one, known as The Breadspoon Murder.
“There used to be heavy wooden or cast-iron fireplace utensils for baking. One of these was called a breadspoon,” he said. A small child was killed when struck with one of these spoons, supposedly for not behaving, Herrick said.
The second murder was “up on the mountain,” said Herrick, referring to Devil’s Head, which borders St. Albans. Two brothers, with adjoining parcels of land, argued over a load of hay, said Herrick, and one shot the other with a shotgun.
Herrick, who has lived all of his 76 years in Harmony, said the community is known for its closeness.
“This is a real shock to us,” he said.