WATERVILLE — As authorities on Wednesday searched for a Waterville woman who was last seen the day before putting her 8-year-old twin girls on the school bus, the woman’s boss said in an interview that her friend and co-worker’s life had previously been threatened by her boyfriend.

Melissa Sousa Photo courtesy of Maine State Police

Friends reported Melissa Sousa, 29, of 32 Gold St., missing at about 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

“This is not like her to disappear,” he said. “This is completely out of the ordinary.”

Waterville and State police discovered a body from the basement of 32 Gold St. around 4 p.m. Wednesday. The body was removed and transported to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner, which will begin work on identification and cause of death Thursday.

Meanwhile, the children’s father, Nicholas Lovejoy, 28, who also lives in the apartment, was arrested around midnight Tuesday into Wednesday after Waterville police stopped a sport utility vehicle he was driving on Summer Street, off Gold Street, McCausland said in a press release.

Lovejoy, who did not report Sousa missing, was charged with having a loaded rifle in the vehicle and endangering the welfare of a child, as he had left his children home alone, McCausland said.

“Lovejoy was interviewed at the Waterville Police Department this morning and has cooperated with investigators,” McCausland said. “He was later taken to the Kennebec County jail, where he is being held in lieu of $2,000 bail.”

Waterville police asked Maine State Police Tuesday night for help in investigating the case, he said.

Sousa is 5 feet tall, weighs 125 pounds and has brown hair and hazel eyes, according to McCausland.

“A team of state police detectives and evidence technicians are in Waterville and have joined Waterville police in the investigation,” he said. “Anyone who has seen Sousa or has information on her whereabouts is asked to call Waterville Police at 680-4700 extension 4513.”

Megan Legasse, Sousa’s boss at Dunkin’ Donuts on Main Street in Waterville where Sousa is a shift leader, said she and Sousa ride to work together every day and Sousa told her Lovejoy has threatened several times in front of their children to kill her.

“He’s locked her out of the house and pointed a gun at her while the girls were upstairs, looking out of the window,” Legasse said in a phone interview Wednesday. “A week ago in the driveway, he pointed a gun at her and the kids were saying, ‘Don’t kill my Mom.’ ”

Nicholas Lovejoy Photo courtesy of Kennebec County jail

Legasse said she last saw Sousa on Monday when Sousa dropped her off at her Oakland home.

“She has Tuesday and Wednesday off and said, ‘OK, see you Thursday morning at 3 a.m.,’ Legasse recalled. “We had stopped at the bank so I could drop my deposit off and she went into the bank to get a loan to get an apartment.”

Legasse said Sousa wanted to get away from Lovejoy and get an apartment for her and the girls, whom she would never leave.

“She’s a good person and a good mom,” she said. “She’s just stuck in a (bad) spot. She was threatened all the time. He threatened her. He said he had two options —  to kill her and to kill her.”

Legasse said a police detective came to her home Wednesday morning to talk to her, and she has been to the police department. She said Sousa has worked at Dunkin’ Donuts more than four years.

Legasse said she heard Lovejoy went to a mutual friend’s home near the Vassalboro-Winslow town line Tuesday afternoon and the babysitter there said he took a shovel off the porch and walked out back where he has a camper on the property.

“It’s just hearsay at this point,” Legasse said.

An investigator with the Maine Warden Service stands in the middle of Taylor Road in Winslow on Wednesday as law enforcement officers searched for missing Waterville woman Melissa Sousa.

By Wednesday afternoon, several state police officials and a Winslow police officer were seen investigating the property at 337 Taylor Road in Winslow. Maine State Police Evidence Response Team and Major Crimes Unit vans were parked at the scene.

Behind the two-story, gray house was a beige camper parked near the woods. A children’s play set and a wood pile were between the camper and the house. At 2:36 p.m., one of the state police vans and several officials left the scene and headed to 32 Gold St. in Waterville.

An older woman who lives in the area of Taylor Road, but who asked not to be named, said she had seen a man and woman with children coming and going at the camper but had not seen them in a few weeks.

Earlier in the day, Legasse, Sousa’s boss, said Lovejoy and Sousa have been together about 15 years but are not married, and they came to Waterville from Massachusetts. Sousa has a brother in New Hampshire and her mother lives in Massachusetts, Legasse said.

“Her mother’s on her way from Mass. now,” she said. “Her mom’s been telling her for days and days to leave. Nick knows where her mother is. He knows where everyone is.”

Legasse said it is her understanding that Sousa and Lovejoy’s girls were taken into foster care Tuesday night.

She said the SUV Lovejoy was in when he was arrested is Sousa’s Jeep.

Asked if there is anything Legasse would want people to know about Sousa, she said: “I just think it’s important that people know that she’s not just missing,” she said, her voice breaking.

Investigators with Waterville Police Department and the Maine State Police search the residence at 32 Gold St. in Waterville on Wednesday for clues to the whereabouts of Melissa Sousa, 29, who has been missing since Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, back in Waterville in the mid to late afternoon, police swarmed 32 Gold St. as neighbors milled around on sidewalks, watching the goings-on.

Debbie McDonald, 53, lives across Summer Street from where Lovejoy and Sousa live and said she told police she had heard five gunshots two nights ago.

“It freaked me out, it was so loud,” she said. “It literally sounded like it was in my yard. I looked out the window and didn’t see anything.”

Otherwise, the only noise she hears from the apartment is a dog barking, she said.

“They don’t socialize with neighbors,” McDonald said of Lovejoy and Sousa. “They keep to themselves.”

McDonald said the developments on her street are “crazy.”

“It’s scary,” she said. “I was born and raised here and it used to be so good.”

She described Lovejoy as frightening.

“One night I heard a car alarm go off — a few weeks ago — he came out to the end of the road and stood there, staring around. He is scary looking. He don’t associate. He don’t say ‘hi.'”

Cheryl Castonguay, 43, of Gold Street, was pushing a young child she babysits in a stroller and stopped on the corner of Gold and Summer streets to chat with others who also were watching the police work.

Castonguay said she has three children of her own, ages 19, 17 and 15, and she is concerned about Sousa, the twins’ mother.

“Hopefully, they find her and she comes back, safe and sound, for her kids,” Castonguay said. “This is awful. I’ve got three kids and I can’t imagine if I were missing what my boys would be like. It’s just sad. Everyone around here has kids.”

Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey on Wednesday morning referred questions about the investigation to State Police.

Investigators with Waterville Police Department and the Maine State Police search the residence at 32 Gold St. in Waterville on Wednesday for clues to the whereabouts of Melissa Sousa, 29, who has been missing since Tuesday morning.

The 2 1/2-story apartment house at 32-34 Gold St. is located at the corner of Summer Street. A Waterville police officer was parked Wednesday morning in the rain on the Summer Street side of the building, and another officer was inside the door to the porch on the Gold Street side.

Neighbors said they did not know what was going on, but some saw police cruisers driving slowly up and down Gold Street late Tuesday night.

Chris Moody, who lives across the street on the Gold Street side, said earlier Wednesday that the building has three apartments, including one on the east side of the building facing Summer Street that includes part of the first and second floors and in which Lovejoy lives with Sousa and their girls.

The building is located just east of the Muskie Center and Durbin Apartments, both of which are off Gold Street.

Moody, 69, said Lovejoy often burns trash and other debris in a container on his lawn off Summer Street. Moody, who uses oxygen for a lung disease, said the smoke bothers him a lot. Lovejoy also has a dirt bike that he raced around in the Muskie Center parking lot, he said.

“For hours, every day, he’d ride around in circles,” Moody said. “I complained July 4 and called the Muskie Center. They took care of it and that was the end of it.”

He said he saw Lovejoy walking the dog Tuesday outside the apartment.

“He was out walking the dog last night and he never walks the dog,” Moody said. “I’ve never seen him walking the dog before. That was odd.”

Lovejoy has no criminal record in Maine, according to a statewide records check conducted on Wednesday.

A heavy rain pounded the streets near the apartment house Wednesday morning, where blue and white pickup trucks were parked in the driveway on the Summer Street side where Lovejoy and Sousa live and where a police officer was parked. Tires were piled up on the lawn, where chairs, a metal barbecue grill and other items were situated.

Lindsey Booker Burrill, whose family owns the apartment building, said in a phone interview Wednesday morning that she was not aware of the situation and appreciated the heads up. She said she planned to go to the apartment building to see what it was about.

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