WATERVILLE — The first thing Aurele Fecteau’s neighbors noticed in recent days was that the 92-year-old man’s lawn had not been mowed at his normally manicured Brooklyn Avenue property.
On Saturday, the property, bordered with blooming flowers at the corner of Vose Street, was a crime scene.
A family member found Fecteau’s body about noon Friday in the house. Waterville police went to the home and called Maine State Police for assistance based on what they saw. Police are calling the death suspicious, but they would not say why.
On Saturday, yellow tape cordoned off the house and grounds, and orange traffic cones closed off the road in front of the house. Detectives from Waterville and the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit and state crime scene investigators collected evidence and asked a lot of questions.
The home, at 33 Brooklyn Ave., is near Waterville Senior High School and Mid-Maine Technical Center.
“He was good about keeping his lawn mowed,” said neighbor Nancy Morissett, who lives on Vose Street, across from the Fecteau home. “He used a riding mower even with him not being able to see too good, he’d be out there, and I thought last night it was kind of strange because I saw him two or three days ago.”
Morissett said Fecteau suffered a stroke in recent years that affected his eyesight. She said he told her this would be his last year of gardening.
Morissett, who has lived on the street since 1980, and another Vose Street neighbor, Jade Noonan, said Fecteau had mowed his lawn once since the weather turned nice, and it needs to be mowed again.
“He was a very nice gentleman; he kept to himself, but we used to chat because I have a garden as well, so we’d chat about gardening,” Noonan said. “He always maintained his garden; he had all sorts of vegetables and flowers — tomatoes, zucchini and squash, your normal garden stuff. I got a rhubarb plant from him last year. I cut my grass just the other day and I thought it was funny that he hadn’t come out to mow. I’ve already mowed twice.”
State police Lt. Christopher Coleman, of the Major Crimes Unit, said detectives were investigating the death as suspicious.
“Investigators from the state police and Waterville worked until the early morning hours last night, and they were back here early this morning,” Coleman said Saturday. “We’re continuing to talk to neighbors and working our way through family members, trying to understand the relationships and how this man lived and conducted his life; and we’re continuing with that effort today.”
Coleman said an autopsy was conducted Saturday morning at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta. No results were released Saturday.
“It’s going to take awhile to get to a point where we can draw any conclusions, but at this point we’re doing everything we can to try to draw those conclusions as quickly as we can,” Coleman said.
Fecteau was a longtime resident of Waterville and had retired from Scott Paper Co. in Winslow, police and neighbors said. He lived in the house alone.
A call placed Saturday afternoon to the home of Ernest Fecteau, said to be Aurele Fecteau’s eldest son, was not returned immediately.
Neither Morissett nor Noonan saw or heard anything out of the ordinary on Brooklyn Avenue the night before Fecteau’s body was found, they said.
Fecteau’s Brooklyn Avenue neighbor Harolyn Clifford, 91, said the street normally is quite busy, with the high school track and football fields at one end and the school and softball and baseball fields at the other.
“There’s always a lot going on here,” Clifford said. “There’s lots of cars. My lights come on automatically if someone walks in the yard or close to the house. They go on and off a lot, if they walk close.”
Clifford and his wife, Marjory, said they had known Fecteau for 60 or 70 years. They said Fecteau and his wife, Jeanne, had seven children — five boys and two girls. Jeanne Fecteau died in June 2009.
Fecteau lived alone, but his children came over often to visit, the Cliffords said, noting that Fecteau had taken of his wife in her years of declining health.
“He was a good man, a good family man,” Marjory Clifford said. “He was a home man; his boys took him fishing in the summer. He took care of his grounds; he was always working on his gardens and his house.”
Coleman, of the Major Crimes Unit, said the neighborhood is quiet, and Waterville police told him it was not known to have problems that would require a police response.
“I always ask the public to take normal precautions,” Coleman said. “By that I mean, when you leave your car somewhere, you lock it; when you leave your house, you lock it.” He added that nothing about this case so far would cause him to advise more serious precautions.
Police are asking for the assistance of anyone who may have been in the area of Brooklyn Avenue and Vose Street the last few days and saw anything out of the ordinary.
The telephone number for state police in Augusta is 624-7076.