Authorities took to the air and train tracks Thursday to search for a campsite and flare-like devices that murder suspect Leroy H. Smith III may have left in the woods of Gardiner or Richmond, but had found nothing Thursday.

The search for the campsite stemmed from statements Smith allegedly made to police investigating the killing of Smith’s father, Leroy Smith Jr.

Gardiner Police Chief James Toman said the improvised pyrotechnic devices – described as paper tubes, such as toilet paper rolls, wrapped in duct tape with some filament and filled with black gunpowder. The devices were meant to alert Smith to foot traffic in the woods so he could identify safe places where he could camp and grow marijuana, Smith allegedly told police. But authorities said it unlikely the devices would work even if they do exist.

Local police, joined by Maine State Police units with three bomb-sniffing dogs, searched the woods on foot Tuesday and Wednesday but said they found no such devices.

“We have reservations that these devices even exist, about whether he even placed any of these devices,” Toman said. “He said he deployed these, but that’s all unverified. We’ve found none.”

Toman said if anyone discovers a suspicious device in the area, the item should be left alone and police should be called.

Smith was known to take long walks in the area, including in the woods, authorities said, and he told them he was an avid hiker and was interested in survival-type gear.On Thursday, authorities searched by helicopter and along train tracks for something resembling a campsite.

“If we can locate it, we’ll go in and search (on the ground) accordingly,” Toman said. “Because without any definitive information – which we don’t have – as to the whereabouts, we’re searching for a needle in a haystack. There are a lot of trails in that area.”

Toman said Smith indicated he had placed the devices in March. Toman said it’s questionable whether such devices would work, because the weather has been rainy and Smith said he made them out of cardboard and other paperlike material. Toman said Smith indicated he may have placed more than 20 of the devices.

Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.