The search for a retired priest who disappeared in the middle of July from his hometown, Caribou, has been suspended.

The Maine Warden Service has ended formal search operations for Clement Thibodeau, according to a lieutenant from the service, but it is continuing the investigation into his disappearance, and individual wardens in the area where his cellphone last pinged are continuing to look for him.

Lt. Dan Scott, of the Maine Warden Service, said on Wednesday the agency had been searching a large area for Thibodeau based on cellphone data; but after searching that area for a week, wardens were not able to find any clues or gain more information on the retired priest’s whereabouts. Wardens searched from the air and had support from state forest rangers. They contacted many camp owners and people on vacation in the area.

The last signal from the priest’s cellphone was recorded July 18 and traced to a wooded area in Washington, Penobscot and Hancock counties, perhaps in the Lee area, more than 100 miles from Caribou. Searchers plotted out a 300-mile area, but the thick forest canopy hindered efforts. Nevertheless, the area is a general patrol area for wardens, according to Scott, so they will continue searching.

Scott said he’s sure Thibodeau will be found at some point and hopes the public will keep an eye out for him or his vehicle.

Despite the reduced scale of the wardens’ search, Caribou police consider the search active. Caribou police Sgt. Mark Gahagan said the search will remain constantly active until Thibodeau is located.

Thibodeau, 85, disappeared July 15 from Reno’s Family Restaurant, at 117 Sweden St. in Caribou. He was driving a gray 2013 Chevrolet Equinox with Maine license plane 638A, which authorities hope to find, according to a post on the Caribou Police Department’s Facebook page.

Thibodeau, who served Notre Dame Parish in Waterville during the 1980s and was fondly remembered by parishioners, may have been exhibiting dementia-like symptoms at the time of his disappearance, according to Caribou police.

Thibodeau was a pastor at Notre Dame Parish from June 30, 1981, to June 30, 1987, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. He was pastor at St. Mary Parish in Bangor from July 1, 1987, to June 30, 1994. He also was posted to St. Joseph Church in Gardiner in the late 1990s. He had retired to Caribou and was no longer active in the ministry.

A silver alert, typically used for missing seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or some other form of mental disability, was put out for Thibodeau on July 21. Caribou police have said family members said Thibodeau was exhibiting signs of confusion, which possibly could be related to dementia.

Anyone with information about Thibodeau’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Caribou police at 493-3301.

Colin Ellis — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis