Investigators are still piecing together how a man who went missing in LaGrange in June died before a hunter found his body more than five months later on the day after Thanksgiving.
The Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office on Monday confirmed that the body a hunter found in the woods off Howland Road in LaGrange on Nov. 26 belonged to 32-year-old Nicholas Cross.
Cross was reported missing on June 15, and was found about a mile from where he was last seen, according to Lt. James Ellis of the sheriff’s office.
The state medical examiner’s office confirmed the remains belonged to Cross and performed an exam on his body, but has not yet determined a cause of death, according to Lindsey Chasteen, a spokesperson for the office.
The body of a man found several weeks ago has been identified as the person who has been missing from LaGrange for six months.
Nick Cross was reported missing June 15, after he jumped out of his sister’s car on Howland Road on the way to Lincoln and ran away, Casey Cross, Nick’s sister said in August. She said she was trying to get her brother to a hospital after a bad reaction to some sort of substance he had taken the previous day.
Nick Cross was then seen by a woman who found him lying in her yard. After she went inside to call 911, he was gone, Casey Cross said.
For months, members of the family and friends had been posting on social media, asking for help in locating the man. On Thursday, his mom, Crystal Davis confirmed Cross’ remains had been found.
A hunter found his body a mile and a half from where he was last seen, a day after Thanksgiving, according to an update to a gofundme.com page created by Cross’ family.
“If only we were able to have gotten authorities to believe us that Nicholas was lost and still in the woods, this may have had a different outcome,” the family said on the page.
A former school board member, teacher and coach from Milo will serve nine months and one day in prison for sex crimes involving a former student, according to the district attorney’s office.
Herbert Russell Carey Jr., 70, of Milo was sentenced today at the Piscataquis Judicial Center in Dover-Foxcroft to three years in prison, with all but nine months and one day suspended, along with two years probation.
Carey, who was a teacher and tennis coach at Penquis Valley High School and served on the boards of SAD 40 and AOS 73 until March, pleaded guilty to six counts of gross sexual assault, a Class C felony crime. The effects of the crimes on the victim and on teachers’ reputations make the case significant, according to Assistant District Attorney R. Christopher Almy.
“He went to jail today, and he will have to serve his time at a department corrections facility as opposed to the county jail,” Almy said.
Carey was indicted Oct. 21 by the Piscataquis County grand jury for the sex crimes, which allegedly occurred in 2015 and 2016. If Carey were to violate the conditions of his probation, he could be sent back to prison for up to three years.
The offenses involved a female student when she was a junior and senior, Almy said in August, when Carey was arrested and first charged with the sex crimes.
The victim, who is now 23, notified police in May, Almy said. She told them her ongoing relationship with Carey involved touching and sexual acts during the last part of her junior year and throughout her senior year, he said Monday.
The victim also told police some of the sexual acts occured in a hidden corner of a study hall room and on a road behind the school in Milo, according to information Almy provided. Some also took place at Carey’s camp on Schoodic Lake, he said.
The victim graduated from Penquis Valley High School in 2016, and her relationship with Carey continued until 2018, Almy said.
“It was a significant case because the defendant abused his trust and standing as a teacher to take advantage of a vulnerable student,” he said. “His actions affected his victim and those effects will last a long time.”
Carey also damaged the reputation of hardworking teachers “who work tirelessly in our communities to nurture healthy children,” Almy said.
Carey served as the Milo representative on the board of SAD 41, which serves Brownville, Lagrange and Milo, from 2018 until March, when he chose not to run for reelection. He also served from 2019 until March on the board of AOS 43, serving those three towns as well as Edinburg, Enfield, Howland, Maxfield and Passadumkeag.
Police interviewed Carey in May, when he initially said he knew the victim from school and had not seen her for a few years. Carey later told investigators that his sexual relationship with the victim began when she was 16 and continued until she was in college.
Carey said sex occurred in his bedroom, at his camp and in vehicles, Almay said. He told police he had been in love with the victim.
Carey’s attorney, Stephen Smith of Augusta, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
BDN reporter Judy Harrison contributed to this report.
If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.