A search that continued Sunday in North Waterboro produced no new clues concerning the whereabouts of 15-year-old Jaden Dremsa, prompting authorities to announce a shift in their strategy to find him.
Lt. Adam Gormely of the Maine Warden Service said officials have decided to lower the water levels in Lake Arrowhead on Monday, a move that will allow them to rule out the lake as a possibility if the missing boy is not found there.
Gormely said the state received permission from the owners of a dam to lower the lake by about 2½ feet. The average depth of the lake is 6 feet, according to the Lake Arrowhead Community, an association of homeowners.
Meanwhile, a ground search for Dremsa will resume early Monday morning. Gormely said dozens of volunteers on foot, search dogs, boats and a helicopter from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Houlton scoured the ground and lake on Sunday without success. Sunday’s search ended around 6 p.m.
“I am frustrated as they come,” Gormely said. “We just can’t find him.”
Dremsa, a student at Massabesic High School in Waterboro, has been missing since about 3 p.m. Thursday after he wandered away from Twin Pines Trailer Park in North Waterboro, where he lives with his parents and older brother. He has a mild form of Asperger’s syndrome, which is similar to autism, but is considered to be very high-functioning, according to Gormely. Dremsa was last seen wearing bluejeans, a T-shirt and sneakers. He is 5-foot-9 with brown hair.
Gormely said Monday’s effort, to begin around 8 a.m., will focus on the lake. An airboat will be brought in to survey some of the inlets and coves that normally would be underwater. The depth of the water varies widely, according to residents.
“We need to see if he (Jaden) is in the water. We’re trying to eliminate the lake as a possibility,” Gormely said. “We are going to give it our 100 percent tomorrow.”
George Fowler, who has lived on the lake for six years, is treasurer of the Lake Arrowhead Community.
“It’s an odd-shaped lake with lots of coves and inlets,” Fowler said. He estimated there are about 1,800 homes in the lake area, though not all of them are lakefront properties.
Fowler said the dam on Lake Arrowhead is owned by Epico, an international energy company based in Italy.
Officials in the local school district, Regional School Unit 57, are very anxious about Dremsa’s well-being, according to Karla Bergeron, chairwoman the school board. The district includes the towns of Waterboro, Alfred, Newfield, Shapleigh, Lyman and Limerick.
“Obviously our district is quite concerned and worried about Jaden. We don’t know where he is,” Bergeron said Sunday night. “The community support for this boy has been overwhelming. It shows what can happen when our community pulls together.”
Gormely said more than 150 people, many of them private citizens, volunteered to search the area within a 2.5-mile radius of Dremsa’s home on Sunday.
“To be able to see that kind of support on Mother’s Day is just remarkable,” he said.
A page on Facebook called “Help Find Jaden Dremsa” contains photographs of the teenager, comments from concerned community members and family, tips on where to search and phone numbers to call in the event someone finds Dremsa.
Gormely said authorities have no evidence to suggest that Dremsa was abducted. He has never run away from home before, according to his family.
A command center has been set up at the Lakeside Community Church in North Waterboro, which has opened its doors to the Maine Warden Service and search agencies, allowing its members to dine and rest there.
A photograph and physical description of Dremsa have also been posted on the website for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: