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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009

    ME - Mary Catherine Olenchuk, 13, Ogunquit, 9 Aug 1970

    Here is a youtube video about the case:

    And an article:

    Red Rover, Red Rover, I call Mary over.
    March 7, 2015Jeff Hansoncold case file

    The following is Alex Ferguson’s account regarding the unsolved murder of Mary Catherine Olenchuk.

    Mr. Ferguson, was a maintenance worker at the King’s Port Inn in Kennebunkport Maine who learned about Mary’s case in 1992.

    His interests were his own as he had no relation to the Olenchuk’s and over the years he documented the information he obtained about what has been dubbed “the oldest cold case in Maine.”:

    “Red Rover” By Alex Ferguson Kennebunkport, ME

    This is a chronicle of the abduction and murder of the 13-year-old daughter of a brigadier general. At the time, August 1970, it was one of the most sensational crimes the state of Maine had seen.

    The frenzied investigation of local, state, and federal law enforcement (FBI and military) and the New England media (press, radio and television) never solved the case. It never went to court, was never closed. Except for the FBI files, the investigative information gathered by law enforcement was never released to the public.

    Over time, the story sank into rumor, its legendary disturbance in the long run almost forgotten. Red Rover chronicles the public information about that disturbance.

    “Red Rover, Red Rover, I call Mary over.” Anonymous

    On August 7, 1970, Brigadier General Peter Olenchuk had been put in charge of “Operation Chase.” The army was transporting nerve gas from bases in Alabama and Kentucky to a liberty ship that was eventually scuttled 280 miles off Cape Kennedy. The governor of Florida, Claude Kirk, three congressmen from that state, and the mayor of Macon, Georgia, protested the transportation of nerve gas through their states and on the eighth of August a Richmond, Kentucky newspaper received a threat to the effect that a group of students would kidnap the families of personnel involved in the operation.

    Ogunquit on August ninth was warm, 80’s, sunny. Thirteen year old Mary Catherine Olenchuk, the youngest daughter of General Olenchuk had been on Little Beach with her mother and older sister. Little Beach was just down Israel Head Road from the Olenchuk summerhouse. About high tide at four o’clock in the afternoon, Mary Catherine left Little Beach, walked up Israel Head Road to their house, changed into a T-shirt and shorts and hung her bathing suit on the clothesline. She borrowed her neighbor’s bicycle, rode to Towers’ Drug Store in Ogunquit center for some candy and then to the Norseman at Ogunquit Beach to pick up the Sunday New York Times being held there for the general’s family.

    Mary Catherine OlenchukShe returned across the Marginal Way footbridge to Wharf Lane by the Marginal Way House, to Shore Road and then onto Israel Head Road. As she reached the brow of Israel Head Road, a woman on the third floor of the Lookout Hotel saw a man driving a maroon car up the hill behind her. He leaned out of the car window and hailed Mary Catherine.

    Mary stopped and spoke to the man. They smiled. Mary put her bicycle in an alcove of the hotel and got into the car. The man backed the car into the alcove and turned the car back down the hill to Shore Road.

    Summer traffic going into Ogunquit center on Shore Road was typically backed up to Perkins Cove. Coming off Israel Head Road, it’s easier to go south on Shore Road than it is to negotiate the traffic into Ogunquit center. Go past Bourne Lane and Perkins’ Cove, take North Pine Hill Road and it comes onto Route 1 just above Eldredge Lumber on the other side of Route 1. The Logging Road at Eldredge Lumber goes to Clay Hill Road to North Village Road to 9 to 109 to 1, or something like that. Sometimes, in the summer, it ‘s better to be lost on a woodsy back road than it is to know where some endless line of traffic may be headed.

    By 6:30 that Sunday evening, Mary Cathetine’s mother called the general at Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland.

    At 7:15, following that conversation, Ruth Olenchuk notified the Ogunquit police that Mary was missing and requested that the state police be notified.

    The general was relieved of duty and made arrangements to fly to Maine.

    By eleven o’clock, when a police search found the bicycle in an alcove of the Lookout Hotel, the moon, four days shy of its first quarter, had already set.

    At quarter to three Monday morning, the Provost Marshall at Edgewood Arsenal called the FBI. He advised that although General Olenchuk was in charge of “Operation Chase,” there was no known connection between the missing daughter and her father’s assignment however the possibility, although remote, had occurred to him.

    By four o’clock that morning, the Boston office of the FBI called Ogunquit Police Chief Cecil Perkins. Perkins told the FBI that no evidence had been developed that would indicate an abduction, that at the time the matter was being handled as a missing person. Brigadier General Olenchuk was en route to Ogunquit, and there was at that time no press activity.

    By the evening of the 11th, the Ogunquit Police Department issued a news release. On Wednesday, August 12th, the York County Coast Star, the Biddeford-Saco Journal, and the Portland Press Herald ran the story on the front page. The Star and Press Herald headlines feared the girl was kidnapped.

    The Journal ran the story in the middle of the front page. Above it, the Postal Reform Bill was signed into law by President Nixon, Germany and the USSR signed a non- aggression treaty, Maine’s general fund revenue was up almost $10 million, and Hurricane Celia gusted through Corpus Christi, Texas a week before. To the right of Hurricane Celia:

    “Search Continued For Missing Girl.”

    Ogunquit- Another search party was organized today for Mary C. Olenchuk , 13, daughter of Brigadier General and Mrs. Peter Olenchuk, summer residents of this community, still missing after being last seen Sunday evening talking to a man in a maroon car near her parents ‘ home.

    According to a spokesman, no plans have been made at this time to call the National Guard into the search.

    Three search parties of 30-35 volunteers, aided by the police and fire departments of this town have searched two miles square in the Ogunquit area and have canvassed house-to- house with photos of the girl. Two military helicopters are being called to the scene to comb the area.

    Mary was last seen by an elderly woman living on the third floor of the Lookout Hotel between 4 and 6 p.m. Sunday. She was talking to a man in a maroon sedan that had scratches and dents on the hood. The bicycle she had been riding was later found at the scene.

    The missing girl was described as five feet three, weighing 80 pounds with dark red, shoulder-length hair, blue eyes and freckles .When last seen she was wearing a white T-shirt with the inscription “Yo-Ko-Miko, Andrews AFB” on it, pink shorts, and wearing no shoes.

    Two state police detectives and four state police officers, headed by state Police Sergeant Paul Falconer, are investigating. Also on the scene are four FBI agents, headed by James Gibbons, and one Anny intelligence man. Local police are cooperating in the search efforts.

    Chief Cecil Perkin s of the Ogunquit Police Department commented that searching for the girl was “like looking for a needle in the haystack.”

    Police kept the disappearance secret until Tuesday thinking the family might receive word from a kidnapper if the girl had been abducted.

    Chief Perkins said Tuesday there had been “no calls, no notes, nothing. The girl just dropped out of sight.”

    The last time Mary Catherine was seen by people who could identify her was when she went by the Marginal Way House at 4:30 pm. Two employees waved to her as she passed. The state police public information officer said that nothing in her background indicated she would disappear on her own. He added that the match of Mary Catherine’s deep auburn hair and her pet Irish setter’s fur were striking. She trained the dog on the Mary Catherine Olenchuk2beach and was part of the summer scene in Ogunquit.

    Her Irish setter’s name was Kelly. Mary Catherine was pretty, physically confident, yet carried an air of shyness. She played with Kelly to an endless crowd on an endless beach.

    Ogunquit Beach in the summer was heaven. Summer bodies were muted by sunlight and a breeze off the ocean while the other half of Ogunquit roasted along Shore Road and Route 1 beyond the dunes and the Ogunquit River.

    After a healthy winter the Ogunquit River tumbled out of North Berwick in the spring. In August of a dry summer, it slowed to a fast trickle under the Maine Pike, then spilled through the rocky falls under Route 1 just as it emptied into the mile and a half long tidal section of the river that runs behind the dunes of Ogunquit Beach. The river flowed under the Beach Street Bridge to the rocky promontory of lsrael Head where it finally veered into the Atlantic. At low tide, a body could wade across the river from the end of Ogunquit Beach to Israel Head and Little Beach just around the point. At high tide, the Atlantic swelled onto the beach and up the Ogunquit River.

    That Sunday, the summer bodies ran in and out of the Maine ocean. A clutch of boys dove off the bridge at Beach Street into the Ogunquit River, then swimming to the river beach, ran nimbly to the road, back to the bridge and into the river again. At high tide, Mary Catherine was barely noticed as she watched this scene. As much as she might have wanted to take the plunge, she peddled on to the footbridge, past the Marginal Way House and into the traffic on Shore Road.


    At the end of the day on August 13th, a memo from the Boston office of the FBI reported that abandoned vehicles and unoccupied buildings had been rechecked by local authorities with no results; the Army provided a helicopter for searching wooded areas and the Maine State Police reviewed records of sex offenders who may have owned a maroon vehicle.

    By Thursday, August 13th three New England States had been alerted to search for a faded maroon-colored, hard top sedan with dents on the hood.

    General Olenchuk, his wife and two daughters, Jane, 17 and Mrs. Nancy Shaw, were in seclusion in their home as local and out-of-state television crews and reporters crowded into the tiny police station in Ogunquit Square. Three shoulder-to-shoulder search parties, made up of fire department and police volunteers from Wells, York Village, York Beach and Ogunquit, had combed the area since Sunday night, but on Wednesday afternoon, Ogunquit Police Chief Cecil Perkins and State Police Sergeants Paul Falconer and Jerry Boutilier called off the ground search. “We’ll depend on the helicopter search from now on, as well as checking out all leads from citizens,” Sgt. Boutilier said, explaining the switchboard at the station had been receiving a great number of calls regarding the disappearance. He said however that no leads other than the description of the car had checked out as of late yesterday afternoon .

    Mary was described by neighbors as a “good girl” who helped her mother with daily chores. “She’s definitely not a hippie and I know of no reason she’d run away. It’s a close knit family,” a friend reported. A policeman described her as looking young for her age with unusually erect posture.

    By Friday the 14th the pace of the search had slowed after three days of frantic activity.

    On Saturday, the Biddeford Journal reported that police called off plans to comb wooded areas in East Biddeford because Biddeford police were busy with a fire that broke out in the business section of that city.

    The hunt for the pretty teenager was being conducted by state and local police, assisted by Army Intelligence, FBI men and local game warden Charles Libby, who was called in the day before.

    Police divulged that the witness described the man in the car as “a white male, about 30 years of age, medium height and weight, and dark haired. Definitely no hippie .”

    Mary’s sister, Jane, 17, and her mother, Mrs. Ruth Olenchuk, visited the small police station. Because Jane looked enough like Mary to be her twin sister, with similar red hair, blue eyes and freckles, police were startled when the pair walked in. No photographs of the couple were allowed, but State Police Detective Charles Bruton, now heading the search, commented Mrs. Olenchuk was “holding up well” under the terrible strain of the past few days.

    General Olenchuk appeared at his front door, but would make no comments to reporters other than to say he was cooperating with the Attorney General’s office and with police.

    State Police Public Information Officer P.L Pert said the search is complicated by thousands of tourists in the area. Leads checked and rechecked included several maroon cars, a pair of shorts found on the local beach, and a man on the beach who was reportedly asking young girls to go to a nearby dress shop with him to try on some clothes.

    Town Overseer Alden Jacobs, who has helped with almost every search conducted so far, said he’d never seen such an intensive search. All members of the town police force continued to work double shifts, as they have since Sunday night.

    According to State Police, more than 1,000 posters bearing the picture and description of the missing girl have been distributed along the Canadian border and as far south as Delaware.

    On August 15th, an FBI agent handed the general’s sister the unlisted phone number of Shirley Harrison, a well known local psychic. The agent told her that officially he couldn’t consult a psychic sensitive, but off the record he gave her Harrison’s number. Shirley Harrison gave the results of her work to the Olenchuks and they gave it to authorities.

    That Sunday, fifty local volunteers combed the coastal area between Ogunquit and York Beach. Fifteen additional volunteers from the navy yard were in the Goose Rocks Beach -Biddeford Pool area, under the direction of State Police Sgt. Paul Falconer. Ogunquit Fire Chief Burton McAfee had the Ogunquit Fire Department pump the water out of an old stone quarry on Pine Hill Road. No clues were found by any of the groups.

    An army helicopter had been conducting an aerial search of the area for several days with state and local police following up on the ground.

    The state police public information officer said more than 50 abandoned cars were thoroughly checked out Sunday between Ogunquit and York Beach from the coast to about five miles inland.

    On August 17th, an FBI teletype from Chicago to Boston advised that Mary Catherine arrived at the Army Procurement Supply Agency, near Joliet, Illinois, last February 1st and left for Maine in June. Mary Catherine attended St. Rose School in Wilmington, Illinois, had no definite boyfriends but had attended a class picnic and was well known to several classmates. There were no other teenagers residing near Mary Catherine at APSA. Mary Catherine attended weekly Girl Scout meetings and was friendly with a number of these individuals. Mary Catherine was shy, athletic, a devout Catholic, polite, well mannered and it was not believed Mary Catherine would enter a vehicle unless the identity of the driver was known or she was forced to enter and would have struggled if accosted.

    Maine State Police advised the FBI that General Olenchuk conferred with military sources in order to determine if a television announcement by him with respect to his daughter ‘s disappearance and his status as commanding officer in charge of the disposition of the nerve gas might produce publicity, which might be of assistance in locating the whereabouts of the victim.

    On Thursday, August 20th General Olenchuk told a news conference held at the Wells Grange Hall that it was “highly improbable” there was any connection between his role in the recent overland shipment of nerve gas and the disappearance of his 13-year* old daughter.

    The general confirmed reports that he had been in charge of the rail shipment of nerve gas from Alabama and Kentucky to Sunny Point, N.C. The nerve gas was sunk earlier that week aboard an old Liberty ship 283 miles off Cape Kennedy. Olenchuk said the possibility of any link between his daughter’s disappearance and his assignment had been pondered and then discounted because no word had been received by the family since the girl disappeared.

    The general said Mary had gone downtown after church to buy a newspaper “and on the way back, something happened to her…”

    Olenchuk headed the Army’s Procurement and Supply Agency in Joliet, Ill. He said he was chosen for the nerve gas assignment because of his Chemical Corps background but was not notified of his selection until two days before his daughter disappeared.

    He flew to Alabama to supervise security and transportation of the poisonous gasses that were kept in rocket vaults. When he learned of his daughter’s disappearance he flew to Maine to be with his wife and another daughter. A third daughter, who is married and lives in Boston also came to Maine. He said he would take his family back to Joliet at the end of the summer if there were no further developments in the search.

    Olenchuk appealed to the public to provide any information that could lead to the return of his daughter “no matter how unimportant the information may seem…

    “It has been 11 days since any member of our family has seen or heard from our youngest daughter, Mary. I know I don’t need to tell you what my family has been going through. All of you who have children or brothers and sisters know.” the general said .

    He praised the work of the Ogunquit Police, the Maine State Police, the FBI and other law enforcement and assisting personnel working on the case.

    The general said he didn’t believe his daughter would have run away from home. He said she had been warned not to talk with strangers but that if she had stopped to talk with the man mentioned by the only witness to the incident “she either had confidence in the individual or knew him.”

    That day, the Maine State Police moved their base of operation on the case from the Ogunquit police station to the state police barracks in Kittery.

    A man made a telephone call from a pay phone in Biddeford informing the operator who answered the call that he had Mary Catherine and the operator should notify the police that he would call later with ransom plans. Although the man was believed to be inebriated, the state police “instituted action” to apprehend him if he called again.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Part 2 of the article:


    In 1970, Fred Nutter had been a reporter for WCSH for a half dozen years. On Saturday, August 22nd, Fred, his wife and three children decided to go down to Parsons’ Beach.

    “So, we jumped in the car, drove down to the turnpike, got off at Kennebunk and picked up Brown Street just off route 1. Brown Street takes you right straight on down, follows the river, mind you this is the same river that picked up the old dye from the Goodall Mills in Sanford but that ‘s another story. So, Brown Street takes you on down until you cross route 9 to Parsons’. When I was a little kid we used to go down there and get permission to go through the gate there at Parsons’. They had cows and pasture and you had to always ask permission to go through and open the gate, drive through, get out, close the gate and continue on a quarter of a mile to the beach. We’d kind of get to the beach and wander on down toward the Parsons’ building way out on the point. The big mansion separates Parsons ‘ Beach from Drake ‘s Island.

    “So anyhow, it was while we were going down that road, Brown Street, where a trooper ‘s car went flying by us and he set up a checkpoint. I caught up to him, got out and saw Dick Cohen coming in the other way. He’d come in from the route 9 area, the Parsons’ Beach area.

    “Cohen was the chief criminal investigator with the attorney general’s office at that time. I got to know quite a few of those guys because they would occasionally come down from Augusta if there was a homicide in Portland. They would come down and take over. Portland did not have as sophisticated a police department as it does now so all homicides were handled by the state. So after a while you got to know the players and I got to know Cohen.

    “I was aware of what was going on with the Olenchuk case at that point, you know, the girl was missing and I quickly put two and two together, drove to the nearest telephone. I’ve got a hot story, so, pick up the phone and called it in and I got in the car to hear it and what I hear was, ‘Mfff rfff fff…’ The tape had developed a twist and apparently the kid that was running the board at the time when he recorded it didn’t want to stop me, he was as nervous as I was, I guess, but he didn’t want to stop me, say oops I got to straighten this out and do it again so he just let it go. ‘You got it?’ ‘Yeah, got it ok.’ ‘Fine. I’m on my way to Kittery. Call you back. ‘

    “After I called it in to the radio I went back to the checkpoint. By this time the Boston media had picked up on it. The wire services had picked up on it. We couldn’t get anywhere close then, couldn’t even see the building that her body was found in. This was in the afternoon. ‘Cause I know my wife and kids were some upset at me. We never did get to the beach. From there we followed Cohen down to Kittery where he’d said he was going to have his news conference.

    “Had an exclusive story for a few minutes.”

    On the evening of August 22nd, an FBI teletype from Boston informed the FBI offices in Chicago and Baltimore that the Kennebunk, Maine, Police Department, checking a barn in an isolated area on Brown Street because of a foul odor, located a dead body. The body was believed to be that of the missing subject. It was in an advanced state of decomposition and had been removed to the Thayer Hospital in Waterville, Maine for post mortem. The body recovered was clothed in shorts and a jersey. The shorts bore a “Wrangler” label and were pink. A casual examination of the jersey indicated decomposition that prevented identification. The body recovered had a wristwatch on the left hand which apparently unwound at six fifteen on the eleventh day. The subject’s father had brought the subject such a watch from Japan. Positive identification was not established but most likely the recovered body was that of the victim.

    The Maine Sunday Telegram and the Biddeford-Saco Journal on Monday reported that the body of Mary Catherine Olenchuk was found Saturday afternoon about one o’clock under a pile of hay in a derelict barn .

    Two caretakers of the Parsons’ estate, Charles Belyea and Peter Gunn, called Kennebunk Reserve Police Officer George LeBarge to check out an area near the barn that campers had used recently. While checking for smoldering fires, the three men noticed a strong odor in the barn and found the girl ‘s body.

    The barn had been checked once before. A few days after August 9th the caretakers of the Parsons’ property telephoned the Kennebunk police and said that they noticed the barn door was open when it should have been closed and asked an officer to help them check for signs of trespassing and possible fire hazards.

    At the time, the officer noticed an odor but also saw a scattering of bird feathers and attributed the smell to bird carcasses buried in several feet of hay covering most of the barn floor.

    Richard Cohen, head of the department of criminal investigation for the state attorney general’s office, said there was evidence that campers had been in the area in recent days, and the area was used by fishermen. Striped bass were running in the tidal portions of the Mousam River.

    Shortly after the discovery of the body, Wells, Ogunquit, Kennebunk, and state police as well as personnel from the York County sheriff’s office converged on the area and set up road blocks at about 3 p.m. to keep out the curious. Police made an extensive five-hour search of the area and buildings for clues, setting up floodlights to probe the gloomy interior of the old barn.

    Since the recovery of the body Saturday, police and state troopers continued the search for clues to the identity of the killer and sifted clues already found in and near the barn .

    However, the search was “not very encouraging” according to a state police spokesman at the site. About 20 state police officers scoured the unused barn and adjacent fields and woodland Sunday without turning up anything significant.

    A guard was posted Sunday evening to keep curious onlookers from destroying any possible clues, although Sunday’s heavy rain kept many of them away. The rain also slowed search procedures.

    Four state police remained on investigative duty although Lieutenant Bruton returned to his Augusta headquarters. Local officials were checking all leads, according to Kennebunk Police Chief Frank Stevens.

    An FBI teletype from Boston to the director on August 24th reported that the Maine State Police advised that the body recovered in Kennebunk, Maine on August twenty two, last, was that of Mary Catherine Olenchuk and had been returned to her parents for burial. An autopsy established that death was due to strangulation, four turns of quarter inch rope wrapped around the subject’s neck and knotted at the back.

    Police stated that the examination indicated that the subject was not sexually assaulted, however, the examination was not conclusive because of the advanced state of decomposition of the body.

    Coverage of new out of state leads was being discontinued by Boston, however, Maine State Police were aware of the availability of FBI lab and identification facilities.

    Boston closed the case when results of the requested investigations had been completed.


    Portland Press Herald, Wednesday, August 26. A Girl Is Dead; Now The Job: Find The Killer By Richard W. Charles

    Kittery- The squad room on the second floor of the Maine State Police barracks here hasn’t been the same since Mary Catherine Olenchuk’s body was found.

    State police are holding daily press conferences in the room about the investigation into the strangulation death of the 13-year-old girl.

    Ash trays are filled, empty pop bottles are stacked on a side table and two desks overlooking the truck-weighing station show evidence of a great amount of paper work.

    As the reporters climbed the stairs from the ground floor entrance Tuesday, a State Police sergeant in an adjoining squad room answered the telephone, receiving yet another report on a maroon car sought by State Police in their investigation.

    Outside the barracks a state trooper said “you wouldn’t believe how many maroon cars there are in Maine .”

    Shortly before the 4 p.m. conference, reporters from two Maine newspapers, a New Hampshire paper, a Portland television station and two New Hampshire radio stations gathered in the room.

    The reporters, all with cameras slung over their shoulders, sat down in straight* backed chairs around the room while radio and television people set up their equipment, checking lighting and background.

    A few hours earlier funeral services for the murdered girl had been held at All Saints Church in Ogunquit.

    Promptly at four, Lt. Charles Bruton of the Maine State Police and Asst. Atty. Gen. Richard S. Cohen entered the room, with folders on the Olenchuk case under their arms. They took their places at the two desks, which had been moved close together for the conference.

    Cohen said the conference would be a progress report on the investigation .He said that the autopsy had been completed and confirmed that death was due to strangulation.

    He added that X rays and autopsy showed no indication of any type of sexual abuse to the girl. Her body was found in an abandoned barn off lower Brown Street in Kennebunk Saturday afternoon after an intensive 13-day search.

    He said they were satisfied as to the identification of the body of the daughter of Brig. Gen. and Mrs. Peter Olenchuk although further fingerprint checks and dental X rays were being made. Cohen indicated these would be available today.

    “We’re still checking many leads and interviewing many people but we have no specific suspect as yet,” he said.

    Ignoring reporters’ flashbulbs, both Bruton and Cohen answered all questions without hesitation.

    In answer to a woman reporter, Bruton said ownership of the Bible found in the barn had been established. He said it was found on the ground floor of the barn but not close to the girl ‘s body.

    Cohen said State Police were planning to have two press conferences daily, one at 11 a.m. and one at 4 p.m., to report on the case. The conferences will be held at least through Friday.

    The reason for the conferences , he said, was the barrage of phone calls from newsmen which was impeding the investigation somewhat. He added State Police were not complaining, only trying to make it easier for everyone.

    “Any other questions?” Bruton asked. When there were none, the conference ended for the day.

    Mary’s parents said a scholarship in music will be set up in their daughter ‘s memory. The family has asked that donations be sent to the Ogunqui t branch of the Maine National Bank, Shore Road. The reverend William J. Kelly of Kennebunkport officiated at the girl’s funeral.

    She was born in Heidelberg, Germany, Nov 18, 1956.

    In addition to her parents, she is survived by two sisters, Mrs. Robert (Nancy) Shaw of Cambridge, Mass. and Miss Jane L. Olenchuk of Joliet, Ill.

    Internment was in Ocean View Cemetery, Wells.

    The State Police moved their base of operations back to the Ogunquit police station. The twice-daily press conferences originally planned for the rest of the week became daily press conferences held at 4 p.m .

    The case had become a criminal matter and fewer people were involved than was the case when the massive 13-day search for the girl was under way.

    Lt. Charles Bruton told a press conference Wednesday that State Police talked to Massachusetts and New Hampshire authorities about unsolved deaths in those states but there was nothing to tie any of those cases into the one in Maine.

    On September 4th a Portland Press Herald article from Kennebunk reported that a local youth questioned in the Mary C. Olenchuk case had been “cleared .” State police said the youth voluntarily underwent polygraph tests in Augusta earlier in the day.

    The youth told state police earlier that he was the owner of the Bible found in the abandoned barn where the body of Mary Catherine Olenchuk was found Aug. 22.

    State and local police praised the cooperation of the youth. They stressed that the announcement was being made due to the constant rumors that the youth was involved in the slaying.

    York County Coast Star, Wednesday, September 16, 1970 “Ohio youth found dead in Ogunquit”

    Ogunquit Police Chief Cecil Perkins said there was no apparent connection between the death of Mary C. Olenchuk of Illinois and Ogunquit a few weeks ago, and the death of Richard Leavitt, 21, of Cleveland, Ohio. Leavitt ‘s body was found Tuesday afternoon at a cottage near the Olenchuk summer home in Ogunquit. Leavitt’s death appears to have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning, Chief Perkins said.

    Leavitt’s father told him that his son was working with him in Cleveland on the day Miss Olenchuk disappeared. There was absolutely no reason to suspect any connection between the two deaths, the Chief stressed, based on available evidence.

    I asked a friend who knew Richard Leavitt what he thought about Richard ‘s suicide.

    “He was picked on,” he said. “I worked with Dickey Leavitt one summer at Barnacle Billy’s . It was the summer of 1964, I think. I Barnacle Billy’swas 14, Dickey was 15. He was a year older than me. Yeah, Dickey Leavitt was always picked on . He was the butt of every practical joke. Every day, someone was putting ice down the back of his shirt or in his pants, that kind of thing and one day he snapped. He had enough. Some guy put ice down his pants, and Dickey grabbed a blueberry pie. He went after the guy, and just as he let it go, Billy Tower came around the comer. Dickey pied Barnacle Billy right in the face with a blueberry pie.”

    I asked him about the graffiti . At the time of Richard Leavitt’s suicide, the words “I can ‘t go on living knowing what I know” had been written on the pumping station at the end of Israel Head Road. The pumping station looks like a small lighthouse.

    “People were always writing graffiti on the pumping station,” my friend said.

    I asked him if Richard Leavitt drank alcohol or did other drugs. My friend said no.


    The Homicide Squad was organized in May 1971. It solved 26 of 29 homicides investigated in its first eleven months and every case that went to court resulted in conviction. Unsolved murder cases that occurred before 1967 had fragmented records because individual police departments handled them and investigations often lacked focus. In 1967, the criminal division was created within the office of the Attorney General giving the AG control of all homicide investigation. By May 1971, the Attorney General and the State Police Chief created a four-man homicide squad responsible for the investigation of every murder in Maine. The squad expanded to six men headed by Lt. Charles Bruton, a Portland native who joined the State Police in 1957. He rose through the ranks to become a supervising sergeant and, later, commander of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. From Ogunquit, Detective Sherwood Baston headed the field investigation for the homicide squad. Detective Martin Greeley from Portland, Detective Dale Ames from China, Trooper Gene Bickford from South Paris and Trooper Marvin Jones from Greenville were the final four.

    The head of the criminal division, Assistant Attorney General Richard Cohen said “the efficiency of the squad and the chain of command headed by the attorney general’s office is one of the best systems in the country for handling the problem of homicides.” He also commended local police and county Jaw officers who are often first at the crime scenes and work closely with state police and the attorney general’s office throughout the investigations.

    The squad was responsible to Assistant Attorney General Cohen who, with the assistance of other state attorneys, prosecuted the cases.220px-William_Cohen,_official_portrait

    When a homicide or suspicious unattended death was reported in Maine, one or more members of the squad rushed to the scene and “froze it.”

    “Preserving the murder scene is of extreme importance,” Bruton explained.

    Clues leading to the identity of a murderer are often contained in microscopic evidence that may be lost through mishandling.

    “One of the basic things that every officer is taught is that once anything is moved it can never be put back in its original place. It may sound a little harsh, but once a person is dead he’s not going to get any deader.”

    While the authority of the homicide squad cut across some privileges formerly held by county sheriffs, a survey of sheriff departments showed little bitterness toward the state police team. For the most part, the county officials said they could use the help.

    Knox County Sheriff Carlton Thurston said of the squad, “They do an excellent job. Cooperation with the Knox County Sheriffs Department and local police departments couldn’t be better. I can vouch for that.”

    In spite of their work, the Olenchuk murder was one of the homicide squad’s three unsolved homicides.

    July 19, 1971, the Bureau of identification of the Maine State Police sent evidence for examination by the FBI Laboratory. The evidence was described, “Rope taken from neck of Mary C. Olenchuk .”

    The result of the examination was sent to the Chief of the Maine State Police on July 28th. The source of the rope could not be determined, however, numerous red-brown head hairs of Caucasian origin found on the specimen were suitable for comparison purposes and mounted on glass microscope slides.

    The submitted evidence was returned under separate cover by registered mail.

    On September 10, 1971, fifteen-year-old Judith Hand disappeared on the way to a babysitting job. Thirteen days later, her badly decomposed body was found in a sawdust pile near a U Maine Farmington fraternity house.

    Police said the 15-year-old was murdered. Twenty-six years later, when the Portland Press Herald ran a review of the murder in 1997, no one had been charged.

    Judith was last seen by her mother, Lillian, about 2:30 p.m. that Friday as her mother left for her job in Wilton, where she worked second shift as a croquet set stripper. She was riding with friends who offered to take Judith to her babysitting job across town, but Judith said she would rather walk. She walked with two girlfriends part of the way.

    Police never released a cause of death, but immediately ruled it a homicide .

    Authorities said releasing the cause of death would hamper the investigation.

    In 1997, Maine State Police Detective Mark Lopez headed the investigation into the teen’s death. He said he did not know if the girl was sexually molested.

    In 1971, police interviewed seven suspects. While not all of them were cleared of suspicion, police did not have enough evidence to make an arrest.

    In 1997, Lillian Hand said she still got calls from people who said they had information about her daughter’s death. She reported the calls to Lopez, who followed up on the leads, however nothing panned out and Lopez wasn’t optimistic about finding the killer.

    September 16, 1971, in the Biddeford-Saco Journal under the headline “Fire Destroys Barn Where Body Found:”

    barn2Kennebunk.- A state fire marshal has been asked to investigate a blaze of suspicious Origin which destroyed an unused barn off Lower Brown Street.

    The fire occurred in the barn where the body of Mary Catherine Olenchuk was found murdered August 22, 1970.

    Fire chief Lewis Burr said six fire engines responded to the blaze which was spotted at 9:30 p.m. by Kennebunk Policeman James Nadeau, who was on patrol along Route 9.

    The chief said heavy rains in recent days prevented the fire from spreading to nearby pines. “This fire is definitely of suspicious 0rigin,” Bun said.

    August 9, 1975, in a brief Press Herald article that acknowledged the five year anniversary of Mary Catherine Olenchuk ‘s unsolved disappearance and murder, Assistant Attorney General Richard Cohen was quoted, “It’s just been a bizarre case right from the beginning, but it’s certainly not a closed case.”

    July 1978, the body of Mary Ellen Tanner was found in Lyman.

    Portland, Maine, Evening Express, Friday, August 8, 1980. Suspect linked to mysterious Olenchuk death.

    (AP) Ten years have gone by since the slaying of 13-year-old Mary Olenchuk, but investigators now acknowledge they have a suspect.

    After pursuing hundreds of leads that never panned out, police received a tip that led them to a person they believe responsible for the killing. “We do have a suspect,” said Assistant Attorney General Pat Perrino.

    But there has never been enough evidence for a conviction, and the case is “not very active,” police say.

    Authorities won’t identify the suspect, or even say whether he’s still living in Maine. Detectives linked him to the case several years after the 1970 slaying, but have never approached him for questioning.

    “It’s a difficult one,” said State Police detective James Pinette. “Things have come up but nothing that was ever good enough to shed any new light on it.”

    Mary’s parents, who now live in suburban Washington , D.C., have declined to discuss the widely publicized case, which triggered one of Maine’s most intense criminal investigations.

    1982, Psychic Search was published by Gannett Publishing. he first part of the book is introduced with a dedication and acknowledgements by the author, followed by a forward (and forewarning) by the editor. It was printed by Gannett Press in Portland, Maine, edited by Allan Swenson from Kennebunk, and written by Lynn Franklin from Gorham about Shirley Harrison, a psychically gifted mother of six children who lived in West Buxton.

    The first story in Psychic Search is “Missing General’s Daughter,” a pretty straightforward account of the disappearance and murder of Mary Catherine Olenchuk. Some details in the story, for example, Harrison’s conversations with Kennebunk Police Chief Frank Stevens, and Harrison’s ride in a police cruiser on route 9 in Kennebunk with Frank Stevens, Ogunquit Police Chief Cecil Perkins and Shirley’s husband looking for a possible murderer, were not found in other published accounts of the Olenchuk case.

    Psychic Search was the initial source of my interest in the Olenchuk murder. Shirley Harrison died May 5, 1987.

    In the spring of 1991, Mary Catherine’s remains were moved to Arlington National Cemetery.

    York County Coast Star, Wednesday, September 2, 1998

    Ruth Annette (Clement) Olenchuk, 73, wife of retired Army Maj. Gen. Peter G. Olenchuk , died on August 22nd after a long illness, at the home of her daughter in Cos Cob, Connecticut.

    On Sunday, August 20, 2000, reporter Mark Shanahan’s story about Mary Catherine Olenchuk ‘s murder ran on the front page of the Maine Sunday Telegram under the headline, “Teen ‘s unsolved murder underscore’s push for ‘cold-case squad.'”grave

    The story reviewed the circumstances of the thirty-year old murder and reported that the Maine Legislature would consider creating a cold case unit when it convened in January 2001.

    The state police said the fact that Mary’s killer was still at large highlighted the need for a “cold-case squad,” a unit that could work exclusively on unsolved homicides.

    Mary Catherine’s murder was among the oldest of more than 80 unsolved homicides in Maine. The backlog of cold cases was divided among Maine’s 39 state police detectives. Attention paid to the older cases was limited as detectives investigated more recent homicides, suspicious deaths, and child abuse cases.

    Detective Herb Leighton had the Olenchuk file for four years before handing it off to Detective Jeffrey Smith.

    “It ends up being the last thing you do,” said Detective Leighton .

    Detective Smith, who had the file for a year at the time of Mark Shanahan’s story, allowed that, “Unfortunately, homicides do not get better with age.”

    Authorities acknowledged that catching and convicting Mary’s killer would be difficult if not impossible. More than a dozen people associated with the case, including some of the early detectives, prosecutors, and witnesses have died .

    Police believed that Mary did know the man in the maroon car, and regretted that so much time initially was spent looking for a mysterious automobile.

    Lt . Brian McDonough explained, “Today, in missing-children cases, you start with the immediate family and work out from there. You try to learn everything you can about the child’s daily activities- who she associated with and so on.”

    Bob Walsh was the youth connected to the Bible found in the barn who took a polygraph test in Augusta. He was cleared of involvement in the Olenchuk murder.

    Bob’s family managed the Idlease Motel, across Lower Brown Street from the barn where Mary Catherine’s body was found.

    Bob was sixteen that summer, a part-time lifeguard in Kennebunk. He’d been elected president of his class at Kennebunk High School the previous spring but when school started in September, everything was different. He became known as “Killer Bob.”

    “That ‘s something that’s never really gone away,” said Walsh, who lives in Kennebunk and runs a catering business. “If they ever catch this person, I’m going to have the biggest party this town’s ever seen, and I’m going to invite all the morons who ever said anything to me.

    “And that’s a sizable group,” said Walsh.

    Sherwood Baston, the state police detective from the homicide squad of the 1970’s, told Shanahan, “We were involved up to our gunnels in that case, and a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about it.

    “It ‘s a frustrating thing,” he said, “The guy who killed that little girl could be running around right under our noses.”

    York County Coast Star, Wednesday, October 18, 2000

    Gen. Peter George Olenchuk, 78, of McLean, Virginia and Ogunquit, Maine, died suddenly of a stroke on October 6 at his Maine residence.

    In the summer of 2000, the Maine State Police and the Attorney General jointly proposed the formation of a cold case homicide un it consisting of five investigators, an assistant attorney general and a secretary.

    In January 2001, that proposal was withdrawn and replaced with a proposal that would create three new positions in the Department of Public Safety (State Police) solely to investigate old unsolved homicides.

    When the bill finally passed Appropriations, the cold case unit was one detective to head the unit and work with local detectives on cold cases in their jurisdictions.

    Detectives within the Maine State Police were interviewed for the position. A detective out of Ellsworth was designated to head the cold case unit out of CID III in Bangor. The position was to run from October 2001- October 2004 with a legislative review in January 2004 and a possible extension of the position.

    Not long after 9/11/2001, the State declared a budget shortfall, froze all new spending and the cold case unit never happened .

    In the winter of 2002, the State spent $3 million to demolish the prison in Thomaston.

    Ferguson is passionate about the need for a “cold case squad” in Maine. He thinks victims like Mary deserve nothing less.

    “The state needs to put a few mad dogs on these old cases,” Ferguson said. “The way it’s set up now, it’s a guarantee that nothing will happen.”

    That might be true.

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