A Naples man missing since Christmas likely died in a car crash in Auburn that sent his vehicle into the Little Androscoggin River, police said on Monday.

Investigators confirmed that the vehicle found in the river Monday belonged to Mark Conley, 67, of Naples, who was last seen in Lewiston on Christmas Eve and was reported missing when he did not show up for a family gathering the next day.

Mark Conley Courtesy Maine State Police

Conley’s remains were not in the vehicle, and the driver’s side window was broken. A team of state police divers will begin the search for his body in the coming days, state police spokesperson Shannon Moss said.

State police detectives discovered the crash scene at about 12:45 p.m. Monday as they retraced Conley’s possible route to the Lewiston-Auburn area, Moss said. A detective first noticed a dented guardrail, and when they stopped to take a closer look, the investigators found pieces of a silver vehicle that had broken off during the apparent crash. The pieces matched the color of Conley’s missing 2016 Jeep Patriot.

A police drone and a flyover by a state police aircraft confirmed that a vehicle was in the water, and police positively identified it as Conley’s after it was towed onto the riverbank Monday evening, Moss said.

Investigators believe Conley was headed toward Auburn on Broad Street sometime on Dec. 24 when he apparently lost control, struck the guardrail and ended up in the water.


State police do not consider the death suspicious and are handing over the investigation to Auburn police, who will perform a reconstruction of the fatal crash, Moss said.

Earlier Monday, police called a news conference to draw more attention to Conley’s disappearance. Few people had offered tips and leads after state police first asked for the public’s help locating Conley on New Year’s Day.

“The family is very concerned,” Maine State Police Lt. Scott Gosselin said at the news conference. “This is very unusual for Mr. Conley to disappear without communication, certainly around the time of the holidays.”

Conley’s disappearance around the holidays slowed investigators’ ability to obtain information from cellphone carriers, banks and other private companies that could help determine if Conley or someone else had been using his phone or spending money, which could lead investigators in the right direction, Gosselin said.

Gosselin said Conley was experiencing some mild depression, possibly because of a slump in his business as a heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractor. Gosselin declined to answer questions about whether Conley left behind his wallet or cellphone, or whether investigators had obtained any digital information from social media companies about activity on his accounts.

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