Frances Moulton’s friends and relatives haven’t seen the Sanford woman since the day in July 2006 when she climbed onto the back of a motorcycle.

Now, nearly three years after she disappeared, police believe they have found Moulton’s remains at the bottom of a 30-foot dug well on land off Creamery Hill Road in Lebanon.

Authorities are awaiting an examination by the state Medical Examiner’s Office but say the information that led them to the well indicates the remains will turn out to be Moulton’s.

Police suspect she may have been murdered. The medical examiner will be asked to determine the cause of death.

The examination of the remains that were found is expected to begin today in Augusta.

”We are going on the assumption that it is her, ” said Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine State Police. ”We do suspect foul play.”

State and Sanford police issued a statement on Tuesday saying they had found human remains in a well at 76 Creamery Hill Road.

State police divers, a cadaver-finding dog and detectives from both agencies were at the scene on Tuesday.

The person who lives in a trailer on the property has lived there for only a few months and is not a suspect, police said.

McCausland said the search resumed on Wednesday as divers, using special equipment provided by the Connecticut state police, returned to the well, where they collected additional evidence.

McCausland said family members did not report Moulton as missing until September 2006, nearly three months after she disappeared.

A 2007 Portland Press Herald article reported that Moulton had a history of leaving home for months at a time.

In the article, she was described as being 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighing 115 pounds. She had a 1-inch scar on her chin and a teardrop tattoo on her right ankle.

Police called for the public’s help in 2007 because relatives had not heard from her for more than a year.

Sanford police asked the state police for their assistance in January 2008.

”We needed more resources, ” said Sanford Police Chief Thomas Connolly.

The case went cold again in 2008, until an informant contacted Sanford police with new information.

”Through an informant, through a lot of hard police work and a little luck, we developed information on where she might be, ” Connolly said.

Connolly said the informant told investigators that Moulton ”had died in a well.”

Connolly said the information had been passed along through several people to the police source, adding, ”It was one of the those situations where someone told someone else and that person told another person.”

”We were told (Moulton) may have been at the property or nearby on a particular night. It was bit nebulous. We had to do a lot of interviews and a lot of digging to come to this, ” the police chief said.

State police got a search warrant for the property off Creamery Hill Road.

”If it is indeed this woman, at least we can bring her family some closure, ” Connolly said.

McCausland said Moulton’s father and a brother visited the Creamery Hill Road property on Wednesday.

Attempts to reach her family and an aunt were unsuccessful.

Connolly said both agencies are prepared to begin re-interviewing people if the medical examiner determines that Moulton was murdered.

”You have to have a body before you can start, and then you trace it back from there, ” he said.

Connolly credited two of his officers with staying on top of the missing-person case – Sgt. Jason Wagner and Cpl. Tom Lord.

”They never let it die, ” Connolly said. ”It took a lot of hard work, with a little luck thrown in. But, I also believe you make your luck.”

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