Contributed • August 31, 2021 By Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News Staff
A Milo man with a history of domestic violence assault is charged with murder in connection with the death of his 1-month-old son on Sunday, according to the Maine attorney general’s office.
Reginald Melvin, 28, is charged with depraved indifference murder in the death of Sylus Melvin, who was born July 28.
The circumstances surrounding the baby’s death have not been made public.
Melvin made his first court appearance Tuesday afternoon remotely from the Piscataquis County Jail in Dover-Foxcroft before Superior Court Justice William Anderson.
Anderson impounded the affidavit at the request of Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case.
Anderson set bail at $250,000 cash or $500,000 in property.
Melvin, who wept throughout the short hearing, did not indicate whether he or his family could post such a high bail. Conditions include no contact with children.
An attorney has not yet been appointed to represent Melvin on the murder charge, the judge said. Melvin’s next court date has not been set.
Melvin’s criminal history dates back to March 2012 when he was charged with domestic violence terrorizing. Over the next six years, Melvin was charged more than half a dozen times with crimes of domestic violence, according to his criminal history. Last year and this year, he has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of drug possession and has been fined.
In nearby Waldo County, Jessica Trefethen, 35, of Stockton Springs was charged in June with the depraved indifference murder of her 3-year-old son, Maddox Williams, after an autopsy showed he had suffered a fractured spine, bruises on his arms, legs, belly and head, bleeding in his brain, a ruptured bowel and other injuries.
If convicted of manslaughter, Harding and Goding face up to 30 years in prison. If convicted of murder, Melvin, Goding and Trefethen face between 25 years and life in prison.
It always amazes me how we think we know the story but then someone comes along and says, “No, that’s not quite the way it happened.” Well, that’s what happened late in the summer after the Brownville Junction High School scoreboard had been restored, installed for all to enjoy, and displayed at our open house! We’ve had TV coverage for the event and newspaper stories written and now it seems there was a missing chapter. Here it is:
In mid-August I received an email from Bob Berg – yes, son of Ralph Berg – asking me to call him. After playing phone tag for a few days we finally connected. He had additional information to add to the story of the retrieval of the scoreboard from the doomed Brownville Junction High School.
It seems that our assumption is that his dad, Ralph, did not take the scoreboard from the old high school before demolition. It kind of …. came to him! When the town decided the high school was of no value and voted to have it torn down, they hired the Leeman Brothers to do that job. For those of you who remember those men they had quite a lucrative business in salvage of old buildings. They were mostly interested in old beams, barn boards, other types of lumber and slate shingles … but not so much old scoreboards.
As Bob tells the story….one afternoon at the end of their work day the two brothers stopped at Berg’s Store outside town, as usual, to purchase a couple bottles of beer to enjoy on their way home. Their truck was loaded with debris from the high school which they would take to the dump on their way home. On top of it all wa s…. you guessed it: the scoreboard! Ralph had a conversation with the gentlemen about what they were going to do with it and “for the price of a couple of beers,” Bob says, “they left the scoreboard at the store.” Ralph sold the store in 1983 or 1984 so when he moved his business to Corinna, the scoreboard went, too. As it sat at the store in the Junction, it sat at the business location in Corinna.
Ralph passed away in 2000. Bob said that he had looked often at that scoreboard wondering just what to do with it. He thought that one day he would have it restored. His vision was that wherever it was displayed, there would be a plaque saying “Donated by Ralph Berg.” So before the museum opens in 2022 there will be an added plaque to the BJHS display indicating that the scoreboard was, indeed, “donated by Ralph Berg.”
This piece of history would never have been restored without the generous donations given by Bill Bellatty but it would never have been available for restoration had it not been rescued by Ralph Berg.
Thanks to Bob Berg for sharing the rest of the story.
Worcester is president of the Brownville-Brownville Junction Historical Society.
MILO — A former school board member from Milo who was a teacher and tennis coach at Penquis Valley High School was arrested Tuesday and charged with sex crimes involving a former student, according to the Piscataquis County District Attorney’s Office.
Herbert Russell Carey Jr., 70, of Milo is charged with six counts of gross sexual assault, a Class C felony crime.
The offenses allegedly occurred in 2015 and 2016 and involved a female student when she was a junior and senior, according to Assistant District Attorney R. Christopher Almy.
The victim, who is now 22 and still lives in Maine, came forward to police in May, he said.
Carey, who uses his middle name, served on the board of SAD 41 as the representative from Milo from 2018 until March when he chose not to run for reelection, Superintendent Michael Wright said Wednesday. Carey also served on the board of AOS 43 from 2019 until March.
SAD 41 is the regional school district that serves Brownville, LaGrange and Milo.
Even though he was no longer on the boards, the websites for SAD 41 and AOS 34 continued to list him as the representative from Milo. His name was removed from both websites after 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Wright was not in his office Tuesday during business hours but issued a statement in the early evening.
“It is with deep concern that we learned today of the arrest and charges filed against former teacher and recent board member, Russell Carey.” Wright said. “Our deepest concerns are with the victim, a former SAD 41 student.”
“Like all schools, Penquis Valley holds the safety of students as it’s highest regard, and to this end we will cooperate fully with authorities in this case,” he said.
Carey’s attorney, Stephen Smith of Augusta, described his client as “a highly respected and longtime teacher in the Milo schools.”
“I will fully investigate the state’s case and its various weaknesses,” Smith said.
Carey was booked at the Piscataquis County Jail and released Tuesday on $1,000 cash bail.
He is scheduled to make his first court appearance in Dover-Foxcroft on Sept. 13.
Carey no longer works for the school district, according to Almy.
Carey retired from his high school social studies/history teaching position after the conclusion of the 2015-16 academic year. He taught at his alma mater for more than four decades. In addition to coaching tennis, which is no longer offered at Penquis Valley, Carey also served as National Honor Society advisor late in his education career.
If convicted, Carey potentially faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 on each charge.
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.
MILO — SAD 41 K-12 students will return to classes on Wednesday, Sept. 1. All the details for how classrooms will look are still to be determined, in part due to guidelines from the Maine CDC and Department of Education being subject to change, but district officials are working on a return plan.
Under the plan, students would be in the building five days a week, vaccinations would be encouraged but not required and masks would be worn at certain times by pupils and staff. Under most circumstances when three feet of social distancing cannot be maintained indoors then protective face wear would be needed and masks would also be required on all school buses and vans.
“Basically this is a reflection of our team putting our heads together, based on DOE guidelines and knowing our communities,” Assistant Superintendent Darcie Fournier said during an Aug. 4 school board meeting at the Penquis Valley School. “It will likely change multiple times before opening day.”
She said Maine is no longer in a state of emergency so most health and safety procedures are not required but would be recommended instead.
Showing a screenshot of the return plan, Fournier explained there is a color code system in place for community transmissions. This is made up of blue for low, yellow for moderate, orange for substantial and red for high. “That will change on a weekly basis,” she said.
“The difference in color will be how we handle masking,” Fournier said. Under blue and yellow, masks will only be required when three feet of space cannot be maintained indoors. An exception is during brief transition periods such as moving from classroom to classroom.
Fournier said that should community transmissions increase to the orange threshold, then masks would be required at all times, similar to the 2020-21 school year. Under red, learning would be conducted 100 percent remotely.
“We will not have a remote learning option this year,” she said, as all students will be in buildings as long as case numbers permit.
“If we are in the red and have to go remote we will create a meal plan for our students,” the assistant superintendent said. She said when classes are in-person, the cafeteria will be open with 3-foot social distancing in place.
Board Chairperson Roberta Trefts said the directors would not vote on a return plan that evening, as they need time to review the document. Whether formal school board approval is required is still to be determined, but a special board meeting could be held prior to Sept. 1.
“This is obviously something that’s going to be changing,” board member Chris Hamlin said.
Fournier said the return plan would be posted at www.msad41,us, and the public can weigh in with feedback to help comply with various COVID-19 grant requirements.
Residents of the three SAD 41 communities approved a $10,217,483 budget for the 2021-22 academic year via a combined tally of 71 “yes” votes to 21 “no” votes during the referendum. The question passed in each town at respective counts of 20-13 in Brownville, 6-3 in LaGrange and 45-5 in Milo.
Between the $1.3 million-plus, $1,056,505 in local additional monies (which was approved via a 12-0 written ballot count on June 15 at the district budget meeting) and SAD 41’s near $42,000 proportional share of the $411,180 Piscatquis Valley Adult Education Cooperative budget, the total local costs are $2,433,581. This amount is the exact same as the previous academic year.
The individual town assessments have each changed by 0.30 to 0.75 percent. For Brownville, a $791,463 assessment is $5,642 (0.72 percent) more.
LaGrange and Milo will both see a slight decrease in assessments. LaGrange would be responsible for $450,950 or a $2,116 (0.47 percent) reduction. In Milo a figure of $1,191,168 is $3,525 (0.30 percent) less.The fall coaching positions are set, with Jay Murano to lead the middle school boys soccer team. The other three high school/middle school soccer coaches were appointed during the June meeting.
MILO — Come to the fair, the Milo Garden Club Summer Fair & Plant Sale Thursday, Aug. 5 from 11. a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Kiwanis Building outer Park Street. We have perennials, houseplants, produce, door prizes, a luncheon, raffle drawings and there’s more! A silent auction, baked goodies, scarves and jewelry, and new this year, a puzzles and games table. Time for fun!
For more information please contact Victoria at 207-943-2400.
It’s been 42 days since Casey Cross last saw her brother, 32-year-old Nick Cross, and she’s spent every one of them looking for him.
Nick Cross was officially 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 said. 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 in to call 911, he was gone, Casey Cross said.
Search efforts have been ongoing since that day and Nick Cross’ disappearance is still being actively investigated, but no foul play is suspected, according to the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office.
But his family remains frustrated and anxious to find him — alive — but their hope is dwindling as time goes on.
“I came up from New Hampshire and we were looking for him day and night. We were riding on four-wheeler trails just hollering his name — it’s just like he vanished,” his mom Crystal Cross said.
Law enforcement organized several larger searches for Nick Cross, but lately, the search effort has been a family affair, Crystal Cross said Tuesday. Casey Cross went out and hired a search and rescue dog to pick up where the Maine Warden Service left off.
An effort, she said, that has been fruitful — tracking her son from where he was last definitively seen in LaGrange to the train tracks that connect LaGrange to Milo.
But money is running out and so have sources of information that are desperately needed to inform future searches, Casey Cross said.
“There are people that have seen him, or possibly gave him a ride that might be doing drugs that don’t want the cops out there because they’re afraid they’ll get in trouble,” she said. “They can call anonymously.”
While her brother had been living in Newport, New Hampshire, with family, he grew up in the LaGrange area and knows the woods quite well, Casey Cross said.
For Crystal Cross, the process has been excruciating, she said. Having had serious spinal surgery recently and living more than 300 miles away, she’s been largely sidelined, a feeling she hates, she said.
“It’s horrible, this horrible anxiety feeling thinking ‘What if my son is in the woods, hurt and we can’t find him and we couldn’t get anyone to help us?’” she said. “It’s just a horrible feeling and you just can’t describe it.”
Anyone with information regarding Cross’ disappearance should contact Detective John Trask at the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office at 207-947-4585.
Photo courtesy of Crystal Cross
MISSING — An undated photo of Nick Cross, who has been missing for over a month.
Observer photo/Stuart Hedstrom WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN — The Brownville Junction High School gymnasium scoreboard has been restored and is now on display at the Brownville-Brownville Junction Historical Society Parish House Museum on Church Street, along with the Railroaders’ 1967 Class M Gold Ball and other sports memorabilia. Bill Bellatty, a 1959 graduate, funded the restoration costs.
BROWNVILLE — A piece of Brownville’s past has been brought back to life. The Brownville Junction High School gymnasium scoreboard has been restored and is now on display at the Brownville-Brownville Junction Historical Society Parish House Museum on Church Street. The scoreboard was unveiled following an early afternoon presentation on July 22 acknowledging those who helped make the revival possible.
Brownville-Brownville Junction Historical Society President Susan Worcester told the audience of 40-plus gathered in the Brownville Community Church Parish Hall, adjacent to the museum, that the new look scoreboard showing the point totals for the Railroader basketball teams and the opposition along with the quarter and time remaining via a manual clock would be revealed when they walked across the parking lot.
Worcester began her thank yous by saying Bill Bellatty, a 1959 graduate of Brownville Junction High School, provided funding for the restoration and construction of the accompanying display cabinet. The current museum exhibit includes the Gold Ball from Brownville Junction’s 1966-67 state championship, earned with a 56-55 victory over Old Orchard Beach in Lewiston for the Class M crown. The trophy of the sole basketball state championship in school history is on loan from the BJHS Alumni Association.
She said father/son Tom and Micah Stade of the Greenville-based Moosehead Signs provided the skills necessary for the project to be completed. “They also donated $1,000 in labor to make the scoreboard what it is today, some would say better than the original,” Worcester said.
The historical society president said Bob Murano and Bill Casey designed and built the display case, and she also thanked the dedicated Parish House Museum volunteers and other organization volunteers.
When asked how many attended the high school, several dozen members of the audience raised their hands and about a half dozen kept their arms up when asked who played basketball under the scoreboard.
“Once the school was closed in the mid-70s, the property reverted to the town,” Worcester said. Brownville Junction High School closed in 1968 during an era of Maine school consolidation with the institution and on court rival Milo High School merging into Penquis Valley High School.
“It wasn’t many years before the decision was made to tear the building down,” Worcester said. “As part of that process, citizens were allowed to go in and take whatever they may want from the building before it was demolished and many did just that.”
She mentioned one local contractor took down ceiling tiles to use on the job.
“Before the building was gone, many of the items in it had already disappeared and so did the basketball scoreboard,” Worcester said. “For many years no one knows what happened to it but it seems that the scoreboard had been saved by local entrepreneur Ralph Berg. After his business in Brownville Junction closed his son Bob took it to his business location in Corinna. No one in the local area seemed to care where it went, another lost icon in the town of Brownville.”
Worcester said several years ago a pair of Brownville Junction High School alumni went to pick up T-shirts made for a 50th reunion at Berg Activewear in Corinna. There they noticed the old scoreboard, asked the owner what he was planning to do with it and after some discussion the clock came back to Brownville where it ended up being stored in various garages for more than a decade.
Three years ago historical society volunteer George Dean arrived at the museum to announce that “‘the local lost scoreboard had been found and it is coming to the museum,’” Worcester said.
“I remember putting on my teacher voice and saying ‘do not bring that here until you know what’s going to happen to it,’” she said, as organization officials needed to determine if the scoreboard was worth saving, what the potential restoration costs might be and where the funding would come from.
Upon seeing a photo in the Brownville-Brownville Junction Historical Society 2020 summer newsletter, Bellatty contacted Worcester and offered to pay for restoration costs. “Bill said he could not count how many times he looked at that scoreboard in order to see how many seconds there were left in a quarter,” Worcester said.
After some calls and research, the historical society was connected with Moosehead Signs. “The scoreboard was gone for about two months and when it returned it looked better than new,” Worcester said.
“Now it’s back, looking ready for a new season of basketball and what do the half dozen volunteers at the museum plan to do with it?,” she said. Worcester said the museum is located in a structure built in 1839 as a church and the interior is covered in tin.
The 75-pound scoreboard could not be hung easily even if a suitable spot was found, but Murano and Casey worked to construct a wooden display.
“It’s hard to believe it’s been 55 years since the boys won the championship,” Bellatty, a resident of California, said over Zoom. “I am so happy I could do what I did. Brownville Junction High School meant everything to me and I was so sorry it was torn down.”
He said he moved to town in fifth grade and followed the Railroaders teams growing up and after leaving the community following graduation. When he could, Bellatty would call up a friend to learn the scores of games.
“I left there and went in the military in September of 1959 and spent some time over in Asia and I always came home whenever I could, I still miss Brownville Junction,” Bellatty said. He said he hopes to travel to Brownville in the fall.