Remains discovered Monday morning near the Richmond transfer station are those of a Gardiner man who is believed to have died over the weekend.
Lt. Christopher Coleman of the State Police Criminal Investigations Division said the death of 56-year-old Leroy Smith Jr. is suspicious and that his body was found after his son, Leroy Smith III, was arrested on an unrelated warrant in Westbrook.
State police wouldn’t describe the condition of the body or how it might have gotten there. Coleman said the investigation is ongoing.
“The investigation has been extremely fast-paced,” Coleman said.
Smith’s remains were discovered around 6 a.m. Monday by Sagadahoc County Sheriff Deputies and Richmond police responding to information provided by Westbrook Police.
Coleman declined to say what that information was or who provided it, but Westbrook police confirmed they arrested Leroy Smith III, 24, at 12:30 a.m. Monday on a fugitive from justice warrant that was apparently not related to the death of the elder Smith.
Coleman said nobody has been charged in connection with Smith’s death.
State police said the father and son lived together in Apt. 2 at 16 Cannard St. in Gardiner.
Department of Safety spokesman Steve McCausland declined to say if the younger Smith is a suspect in his father’s death.
“At this point it’s way too early in the investigation to start talking about suspects,” McCausland said.
Westbrook police Capt. Mike Nugent said officers in that city arrested the younger Smith on a warrant and subsequently got information that ultimately led to the body.
“The information was provided to departments up north who confirmed there was in fact a homicide,” Nugent said. Coleman later reiterated that the elder Smith’s death is still considered suspicious rather than a homicide pending a report by the state medical examiner.
Coleman said Smith’s remains were found in the woods near the transfer station on Lincoln Street in Richmond, which is less than 10 miles from the Smiths’ apartment. Investigators spent much of the day combing the woods in the area of the body’s discovery.
The remains were subsequently taken to the medical examiner’s office. State police said Monday night the autopsy would take place Tuesday. Coleman said police have not yet determined how Smith died.
Police also searched the Smiths’ apartment Monday afternoon. Yellow crime tape blocked the door and an exterior staircase. A Gardiner police officer guarded the building and a nearby Dumpster-type trash receptacle, which also was marked with yellow crime tape. Coleman said police have spoken to neighbors.
“Those efforts will continue for the days to come,” Coleman said.
Coleman told reporters Monday afternoon that no one is in custody in relation to the discovery, and that anyone who spent time with the elder Smith this weekend is asked to call the police.
But he said there is no apparent danger to area residents.
“There is nothing in this case that should cause the public to be any more concerned about their safety than usual,” Coleman said.
Amy Williams, who lives across the street from the apartment, said the younger Smith was inside the Dumpster in the rain Sunday mid-morning loading items from it into a trash bag.
Williams, who was not aware as she spoke of the death that police were investigating in Richmond, said the young man leaned picture frames against the Dumpster. She believed both men were home at the time.
“I just thought maybe he threw some trash in there and didn’t put it in a bag,” Williams said. “I thought it was kind of odd he was inside the Dumpster.”
Williams said police arrived at the apartment Monday morning.
Williams said the Smiths moved in about a year ago. She had only passing conversations with the men.
“They’re very nice people,” she said. “They keep to themselves.”
Williams said she last spoke to the son Friday as he smoked a cigarette on the stoop outside his apartment. He remarked on it being a nice day and told Williams he liked to hike in Richmond.
“He said he’d like to get his father into hiking,” she said. “He said he’d really enjoy it.”
Catherine Williams, who has lived across the street from the apartment building for 30 years and grew up in the neighborhood, said Sandy Smith owns the five-unit apartment building. It is unclear whether Sandy Smith is related to the two Leroy Smiths. Williams said she doesn’t know either of the men.
“I’ve just seen them on occasion,” she said.
Williams last saw the younger Smith Saturday morning as he sat on the front stoop smoking. She said she never saw any disagreements between the men.
“He talked now and again, but not very often,” Williams said. “They were just quiet. They never really bothered anybody.”
Williams said Cannard Street is quiet street with children playing in the yards. Monday’s police activity took her by surprise.
“It’s really strange to me,” Williams said. “It’s a quiet neighborhood and a nice place to raise children. This is really strange.”
Press Herald Staff Writer David Hench contributed to this report.Craig Crosby — 621-5642 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @CraigCrosby4