This article was edited at 10:15 a.m. to add comment from Mincher.

PORTLAND — The man who told police where to find Elena Lozada’s body in the woods of Waldo County said she died of a drug overdose last July, police said Tuesday.

Nathaniel Pete Mincher, 36, of Saco told a detective in February that he and Lozada had taken drugs together when she died, and he took her body to Northport and left it in woods off Route 52.

The remains of the 24-year-old Portland resident were found in April.

While Mincher’s account led authorities to the missing woman’s remains, police are seeking the public’s help to substantiate what they have learned. They want anyone with information about Mincher or Lozada to contact them.

“It’s still very much an active investigation,” Portland Police Chief James Craig said at a news conference Tuesday.

Lozada’s death is still classified as suspicious. No one has been charged.

Lozada’s mother, Carrie Cronkite of Westfield, reported her missing in July. The two were normally in close contact, so Cronkite worried when they weren’t in touch for an unusually long time.

Lozada had recently completed a hospital drug rehabilitation program but told her mother that she didn’t want to follow up with a residential treatment program as planned. Lozada said she planned to go to Boston instead.

Mincher entered the picture Feb. 11, when York County sheriff’s deputies were looking into a complaint about his car being abandoned. Mincher told them he had information about Lozada and wanted to talk to a Portland detective.

According to Craig, Mincher told police that he picked up Lozada on Congress Street on July 10. Mincher said they used drugs together — police would not say what kind or where — and Lozada died soon after of an overdose.

Police said Mincher took her body to Northport on or around July 10. Craig said police believe that Mincher had lived in that part of Maine.

On Feb. 13, Portland police, Maine State Police, the Maine Warden Service and the Medical Examiner’s Office searched a wooded area off Route 52. Several feet of snow blanketed the site, and authorities were unable to find Lozada’s body.

They returned in April, and recovered Lozada’s skeletal remains over the course of two searches.

Police characterized Mincher as a person of interest. He is not in custody, but police have been in regular contact with him, Craig said.

Mincher, reached for comment Wednesday morning, offered a brief statement that did not shed further light on his interaction with Lozada.

“At this time I would like to say, myself and my family, our hearts go out to Elena’s family. Aside from that, I would wish to refrain from commenting,” he said.

He referred questions to a Sarah Churchill, a Portland lawyer. She could not be immedidately reached..

Cronkite, who attended the news conference with her daughter Bethany Lozada of Old Town said she had never heard Mincher’s name. She said there was a chance her daughter was still alive after she took drugs with Mincher, and that he had no authority to pronounce her dead.

“If I saw him face to face, I would ask him, ‘Why didn’t you take my daughter to the hospital? Why didn’t you call 911?’ ” Cronkite said.

Cronkite described how Elena Lozada was diagnosed with depression as a young teenager and began self-medicating with street drugs a few years later.

Lozada did not like the lifestyle she had fallen into and dreamed that she would run Lena’s House, for drug-addicted teenagers, after she overcame her own dependence, Cronkite said.

In that spirit, Cronkite’s church, the Family Christian Center in Presque Isle, has started Lena’s Fund to help youths who struggle with drugs.

“This is Elena’s dream coming true. This is the miracle coming out of the mess,” Cronkite said.

Lt. Gary Rogers, head of Portland’s detectives, said police have received many tips from people who knew Lozada but need to hear from people who know Mincher.

Cronkite has said she learned after her daughter’s disappearance that Lozada was advertising as an escort on Craigslist.

The police chief said there was no indication that Lozada and Mincher met through Craigslist and it did not appear that they knew each other before they met on Congress Street.

Mincher has a criminal history that dates back to 1995. He served six years in prison for an arson conviction in 1996 in Kennebec County, and has served time for other offenses, including perjury and theft by unauthorized taking.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]