BINGHAM — Janice Gitschier has many lingering questions about the death of her boyfriend, whose body was found outside on an icy driveway on Sunday.

She wants to know whether Ernest Sayers, 61, had a medical emergency as he walked home from a card game. If he did, then why did he leave a trail of blood on a snowy cut-over path? How long did it take him to die?

Even though police say there is no indication of foul play, Gitschier said she will remain suspicious until an official cause of death is determined.

“What the heck is going on here?” Gitschier, 63, said Wednesday as she walked the route Sayers did the night he died. “He may have fallen here, too. Look,” she said, pointing to a depression in the snow that first responders later covered with dirt.

Gitschier will not get answers about Sayers’ cause of death until weeks from now, when the results of his toxicology tests come back to the Maine Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Maine State Police Lt. Chris Coleman said. The medical examiner also will determine the official time of death.

Gitschier said it wasn’t unusual for Sayers to play poker at the Main Street home of Tim Wade with a handful of other friends, have a couple alcoholic drinks and either spend the night or walk home.

A neighbor found Sayers’ body lying face down in the ice, with his jacket a couple hundred feet up the road. Blood was on his head and hands, and he was four houses away from his destination of 29 Baker St.

Sayers had been visiting Gitschier from Haverhill, Mass., for about two weeks. He had planned to spend a month visiting, she said, to see her and help fix up her rented house. The two had been in a relationship for 17 years.

Gitschier, who takes care of three grandchildren, said staying busy has kept her mind off Sayers’ death.

“I have the kids, and that’s what’s keeping me going,” she said. “God let him spend some time with me. … Now he’s with his mother.”

Gitschier and Sayers grew up together in Haverhill. For their first date, Sayers took her for fish chowder at a local diner.

“When he loved you, he loved you unconditionally,” she said.

Lisa Gitschier Chapman, Gitschier’s former daughter-in-law, said she was the one who invited Sayers to the card game around 6:15 p.m. Sunday. People put up $5 to play.

Though she left around 9 p.m., everyone was having fun and getting along, she said.

“I feel bad because I asked him to come out,” she said, though he had walked home other times by himself.

Sayers had no enemies in Bingham, she said, adding, “Everybody liked him.”

Wade, who hosted the card game, declined to comment Wednesday.

Armand Sayers, 65, of Haverhill, said his younger brother liked climbing trees when he was younger, though he often fell out of them. He broke his arm a few times — twice by falling out of the same tree.

His brother was good-hearted, he said, but he had a rough life. When Ernest Sayers was about 10 years old, another child threw glass at him and blinded him in the left eye.

Ernest Sayers didn’t go to high school. Instead, he worked at the Goldberg Shoe Co. factory. He then did odd jobs, his brother said.

Later, a drunken driver struck him as he was walking in Haverhill, cracking his skull in several places, Armand Sayers said. He was in a coma for several months and after that received disability benefits.

“He wasn’t a stranger to pain,” Armand Sayers said, adding that his brother later developed diabetes and heart problems.

“As much as he struggled to go through life with all of the various problems he had, he was one of the first people to volunteer to help anybody,” he said.

He, too, wants to know what happened Sunday night.

“I want to hear what the coroners have to say about it, because he was a tough kid, and just falling down wouldn’t have killed him,” he said.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]

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