Hearings postponed for two Dittmeyer slaying suspects

One man has declined a hearing and two others have had theirs postponed in the case of a Portland woman whose body was found in a pond in New Hampshire, with her unharmed 14-month-old daughter in her car nearby.

Krista Dittmeyer’s body was found in the Cranmore Mountain Resort’s snowmaking pond on April 27. Last week, Anthony Papile, Michael Petelis and Trevor Ferguson were arraigned in Ossipee in connection with her robbery and killing on April 22.

Prosecutors said Papile and Petelis ambushed Dittmeyer, 20, to steal drugs and money. Papile was charged with second-degree murder. Petelis and Ferguson were charged with conspiracy to commit robbery.

All three were scheduled for probable cause hearings Thursday. Ferguson waived his right to a hearing. The others were postponed; a new date wasn’t set.


Local man faces charges for six fires set in one day

Members of the state Fire Marshal’s Office have charged an Acton man with setting a string of fires near his home last month.

John Hogan III, 56, was charged Thursday with six counts of arson in the fires that were set on April 27, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety. The fires destroyed two houses, a pontoon boat, an SUV and a shed. A third house was damaged.

The first fire was reported shortly after 10 p.m. on April 27 and was followed by fires that burned the boat, a car and three homes. About 75 firefighters from 10 departments in Maine and New Hampshire responded.

Hogan was arrested at noon Thursday in Westbrook, upon his release from the Spring Harbor psychiatric hospital. He was taken to the York County Jail in Alfred. He could make his first court appearance today.


Panels screening applicants for PHS, Riverton principals

Advisory committees made up of school employees, parents and community members are screening applicants for principal positions at Portland High School and Riverton Elementary School, district officials said Thursday.

Candidates will be interviewed through next week and finalists will have second interviews on May 27. Superintendent Jim Morse plans to appoint candidates to both positions at the school board meeting on June 7.

Portland High Principal Mike Johnson will become director of Portland Arts and Technology High School in the fall. Riverton Principal Nancy Kopack has resigned from her position, effective at the end of the school year. 

Man who took purse from wheelchair occupant sought

Police are investigating a daylight purse-snatching on Congress Street in which a man ripped a pink purse from a woman in a motorized wheelchair.

The woman, 52, was riding on the connector road between Federal and Congress streets, near the Rite Aid at 290 Congress St., at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday when the man grabbed her purse and ran, police said. The woman was not hurt.

Witnesses reported the incident and ran after the man but could not catch him, police said. The purse contained a small amount of cash.

The robber is described as a black man in his 20s, 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, with short hair. He was wearing faded baggy jeans and a black jacket.


Maietta Construction’s plan for reorganization OK’d

A bankruptcy judge has approved the reorganization plan of Maietta Construction and cleared the South Portland company to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The company filed for bankruptcy last summer. The reorganization plan was approved by a majority of the company’s creditors, and post-bankruptcy financing has been obtained, the company said Thursday.

The reorganization enables the company to cut a substantial portion of debt from its balance sheets, said Vincent Maietta, president of the company.

The bankruptcy became an issue in last week’s special election for the District 7 state Senate seat, with the revelation that the Internal Revenue Service had liens on property owned by Louis Maietta, one of the owners of the company, for unpaid payroll taxes.

Louis Maietta was the Republican candidate for the Senate seat. He lost to Cynthia Dill, a Democrat who had been state representative for Cape Elizabeth.

An agreement for a reduced payment of the payroll taxes was part of the bankruptcy plan, a lawyer for the company said. 

Hotels donate $25,000 for SMMC scholarships

Southern Maine Community College has received a $25,000 gift from Lafayette Hotels/Holiday Inn by the Bay.

The money will be used to provide scholarships to students in the lodging and restaurant management and culinary arts programs.

The college operates the McKernan Hospitality Center on its waterfront campus. The inn and conference center gives students hands-on experience, with a full-service front desk, 22 guest rooms and a 100-seat restaurant.


Hundreds gather to honor officers killed in line of duty

Maine on Thursday honored its law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty.

More than 350 people, including Gov. Paul LePage, uniformed police, legislators and civilians, attended a memorial service.

The event was moved from the Law Enforcement Officers’ memorial near the State House indoors to the State Armory on Western Avenue because of heavy rain. It was the 20th annual police memorial service.

The memorial was dedicated on May 25, 1991.


Bared buns, foul language draw charges, achieve goal

A Hope man has been charged after allegedly mooning and cursing at a Maine State Police trooper who was conducting a traffic stop.

Aaron Buckingham, 19, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure and disorderly conduct, said state police Lt. David Tripp.

The incident came during what appeared to be an ordinary traffic stop Saturday on Route 1 in Rockland. Trooper Scott Quintero, who had pulled the vehicle over, noticed a man, later identified as Buckingham, in the parking lot of a nearby convenience store.

“Buckingham had pulled his pants down and was bending over at the waist, exposing himself in the direction of the trooper, while cursing and pointing at his backside,” Tripp said.

Buckingham told police that he was trying to distract Quintero from the traffic stop.

“While driving to the jail, Buckingham was advised that he was successful in getting the trooper’s attention,” Tripp said. 

Knife-making inmate gets three years added to term

A man who is serving a 35-year prison term for murder has been sentenced to another three years for making a knife in prison and allegedly attacking his cellmate in November.

A Knox County Superior Court jury this week found Timothy Mooney guilty of trafficking in prison contraband. The Bangor Daily News said his cellmate appeared to suffer minor injuries, but Mooney was not charged in the attack.

Mooney is serving time for killing his ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Nelson-Blais, in Portland in 1998.

Mooney, who was homeless, smashed a concrete block into Nelson-Blais’ skull in a fit of anger. The couple had been drinking vodka and orange soda in a metal shack.


A cappella group to highlight concert benefiting food bank

The University of Maine’s men’s a cappella group, The Maine Steiners, will sing tunes from the ’60s through the ’90s, as well as songs from their current CD, during a benefit concert Saturday for the Good Shepherd Food Bank.

The concert, starting at 7 p.m. at the Congregational Church in Cumberland, will also feature Norman Whiteside, cellist Hugh Judge and baritone soloist Frank Morrison.

Rick Small, director of Good Shepherd Food Bank, will attend.

Tickets can be purchased for $10 at the door.


Four cited for trespassing said they were ghost hunters

Police say four people who were arrested on trespassing charges in the late-night hours told them they were hunting for ghosts and had brought along a camera in hopes of documenting paranormal activity.

Orono police Officer Wilfred King said two men and two women ages 19 to 25 were issued summonses shortly after midnight Tuesday. The four allegedly ignored no-trespassing signs and scaled a barbed-wire-topped gate leading to Ayers Island in the Penobscot River, where textile and paper mills once operated.

The Bangor Daily News said local legend has it that the island is haunted by the ghost of a mill foreman who was killed in a mysterious accident, and the ghost of a young girl whose father accidentally killed her after being tricked by a 300-year-old American Indian curse.


Town buries festival plan after horror author slashes it

Famed Maine horror author Stephen King has nixed a plan by Bridgton to hold a festival to celebrate what local officials consider to be his literary genius.

Bridgton Economic Development Director Alan Manoian had wanted to hold the festival to highlight King’s connections to the area and include tours of areas featured in some of King’s books.

After hearing of King’s opposition to the idea, Bridgton officials scuttled the plan.

King once lived in the western Maine town. He now has a home in Bangor.


Eastport hosting USS Nitze at July Fourth festivities

The Navy says it will send the USS Nitze to visit Eastport during the city’s 2011 Fourth of July Festival.

Republican U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins announced Wednesday that the ship will visit. The senators wrote to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus last month requesting the visit.

The USS Nitze was built at Bath Iron Works and launched in 2004.

Last month, the Navy announced that it has also agreed to send ships to visit Rockland during the Maine Lobster Festival and Boothbay Harbor during Windjammer Days in June.