Freeport Police Chief Nate Goodman, center, speaks on Tuesday afternoon after members of the Maine Marine Patrol recovered the body of Freeport teen Theo Ferrara while searching Maquoit Bay. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The body of a missing Freeport teenager was discovered in the waters of Maquoit Bay Tuesday morning, ending an extensive, four-day search that was triggered when he walked away from his home on Thursday afternoon.

Theo Ferrara’s body was recovered near Bunganuc Point, close to the border between Freeport and Brunswick, by the Maine Marine Patrol at about 11:15 a.m. Tuesday. The body was taken to the Office of the Maine Medical Examiner, whose staff positively identified Ferrara. By about 12:30 p.m., a notice of his death was sent to teachers and staff at Freeport High School, where he was a freshman.

Theo Ferrara Contributed photo

The medical examiner’s office must still determine a cause of death, which could take weeks or longer. Freeport Police Chief Nate Goodman said the investigation will continue until they track down all loose ends. Goodman thanked the dozens of police officers and volunteer searchers who spent time assisting Freeport.

“We’re all human, we all feel it,” Goodman said. “It’s devastating for all of us. This is not the outcome we wanted.”

Ferrara had been missing since Thursday evening, when he was last seen walking north along Flying Point Road near his home. Search crews had been scouring the coastline and the wooded areas and fields along the road since Friday morning.

Freeport-based Regional School Unit 5 immediately dispatched many of the district’s counseling and social work staff to the high school Tuesday to support Ferrara’s classmates as they processed the news of his death.


“A student death is a difficult and challenging situation that can generate anxiety for some students,” Superintendent Jean Skorapa wrote in a message to the community. “How we, as adults, manage ourselves serves as an important model for helping kids handle tragedies like this. We encourage you to listen carefully to your child and answer questions openly and honestly should they occur. Accepting your child’s feelings and validating them is beneficial.”

Teachers received an email shortly after noon informing them of the death. Adian Morley, 17, said the mood inside Freeport High School immediately turned somber.

“It’s depressing, everyone’s crying leaving school,” Morley said. “My mom works in the office, I saw she was bawling her eyes out.”

Nancy Rochat, an RSU 5 social worker who usually works with middle and elementary school students, said she appreciated the district’s handling of the situation.

The school cafeteria was turned into a de-facto drop-in center for students who needed a place to grieve. It quickly filled with pizzas, sodas and other donated food, Rochat said.

“For some days we were holding out hope he was going to come back and come back safely,” Rochat said.


A group of therapy dogs and their handlers arrived at the high school cafeteria Monday evening to offer comfort to any student, who came to the drop-in center feeling sad or anxious.

Among the dogs was Meadow, an Australian shepherd, and her handler, Renee Brezovsky of Auburn.

“Meadow is a very calm dog and she tends to bring calmness to those around her. She can help reduce a person’s anxiety as well,” Brezovsky said.

Nancy Rochat, a social worker in RSU 5, said she has been trying to meet students where they’re at emotionally. “It’s awkward,” she said. “Kids want to talk to kids.” Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Meadow, with her bright blue eyes, tail wagging wildly, and a blanket that said “pet me,” greeted three freshman girls, who had been watching a soccer team practice on the athletic fields behind the high school cafeteria. All three students said they knew Ferrara.

“He was a very nice person. One of the best kids I knew. We are all very sad and very upset,” said a 15-year-old girl, who did not want her name used.

After the announcement of Ferrara’s death, students were allowed to stay in class or leave, and students who need help had access to specialized grief counselors. Rochat said she has been trying to meet students where they’re at emotionally.


“It’s awkward,” she said. “Kids want to talk to kids.”

The high school cafeteria remained open until 9 p.m. Tuesday to give students a place to be together and grieve.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland announced that St. Jude Church, 134 Main St. in Freeport, would open its doors to the community Tuesday afternoon. A chalkboard placed on the sidewalk outside the church said, “St. Jude’s open until 9 p.m. Prayers for the family and friends of Theo Ferrara.” A steady stream of people came to the church Tuesday night to pray.


Freeport High School Principal Jennifer Gulko and Assistant Principal Charlie Mellon sent out a notice to the RSU 5 community Tuesday night warning that the days ahead will be challenging for the community experiencing grief over the loss of a student. Gulko and Mellon said that if a family chooses not to send their child to class Wednesday, the administration would understand.

They said that social workers, counselors and administrators will be available to meet with those students who come to school and who need support. Therapy dogs also will be on site.


“Tomorrow we will come together again as a school, and classes will run as scheduled for those that are able to attend,” they wrote. “We hope that you find comfort and strength in being together as one. Throughout the day, we will have our counselors and social workers available for support for any of you. We will also have counselors coming from neighboring schools and districts for additional support.”

“In the days ahead, we will continue to support you individually and in groups in any way that we can,” the administrators said. “Our community has suffered a massive loss today. We are here for you however you need us and we will get through this together.”

Freeport Community Services announced late Tuesday evening that it will partner with bereavement counselors from Hospice of Southern Maine on Friday to provide space and support for those grieving Ferrara’s death. FCS, which is located at 53 Depot St., will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

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