The body of a 15-year-old boy who had been missing from North Waterboro since May 8 was found Saturday afternoon on the shore of Lake Arrowhead, the Maine Warden Service confirmed.
Sgt. Tim Spahr said the body of Jaden Dremsa was spotted about 3:30 p.m. by a group aboard a pontoon boat on the lake. They hailed a warden service airboat that was about to search the same area, he said, and the wardens recovered the body.
Dremsa disappeared from his home in the Twin Pines Trailer Park about 3 p.m. on May 8, telling his family that he was going to go for a walk and possibly climb some trees. Wardens began searching for him soon thereafter. Despite a search involving a plane, helicopter, boats, more than a dozen wardens and, at one point, hundreds of volunteers, wardens said they had found no trace of him before Saturday. Wardens had even lowered the level of the lake last week to search coves and inlets.
Spahr said Saturday night that dogs specially trained to locate bodies in water had indicated earlier in the day that they had picked up the presence of a body. Because of that, an airboat was combing the lake, which the warden said is artificial and often looks more like a river than a broad stretch of water.
He noted that bodies of people who drown generally sink, usually for several days, depending on the temperature of the water. Spahr said he had been in a plane over Lake Arrowhead last week and the visibility in the water was very poor. Although the lake is fairly shallow – only about 6 feet in most parts – he said the lake bed is covered with the leafy, invasive weed milfoil, making it impossible to see to the bottom.
A resident of the area had seen a person matching Dremsa’s description near the lake on the day he was reported missing, and Spahr said Dremsa’s body was found not far from that point, given the currents in the lake and the nearby inflow of the Ossippee River. He said the spot where the body was found is about a half-mile from Dremsa’s home.
Dremsa had Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism. Matt Brown, an information specialist with the Autism Society of Maine, said last week that it’s not unusual for people on the autism spectrum to wander and he noted that they are often drawn to water.
Spahr said he couldn’t be sure how long Dremsa’s body was in the water, but it was most likely since the day he was reported missing.
About 5 p.m. Saturday, Dremsa’s mother, Jennifer Howard, posted an update on her Facebook page saying that her son’s body had been found.
“Jaden is gone,” she wrote. “I love each and every one of you for all that you have done to help us find Jaden. It wasn’t for lack of trying or lack of love that we hadn’t found Jaden yet, that is for sure. I never realized what a great community that I lived in until these last 9 days. Thank you once again.”
The search was at its height last weekend when more than 300 volunteers turned out Saturday to join a dozen wardens in a widening search area centered on Dremsa’s home. But on Wednesday, with no sign of him, the wardens began scaling back their efforts. They said they would continue to investigate tips and interview anyone who might have seen Dremsa.
Spahr said he couldn’t comment on whether wardens believe Dremsa was in the lake as a result of an accident or if foul play was involved. An autopsy to determine the cause of death will likely answer that question, he said.
Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said that after the autopsy, wardens would determine whether there was anything suspicious about Dremsa’s death. If there is, McCausland said, the Maine State Police would be called in to investigate.
Spahr said that although the search didn’t end with Dremsa being found alive, there’s a sad sense of satisfaction in finding his body.
“Although you don’t perform a rescue, at least you can provide closure to the family,” he said.
Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: