NORTHEAST HARBOR – There are numerous questions surrounding an unsolved homicide in town more than four decades ago, but few answers.
Forty-two years ago a Massachusetts woman was killed at the Asticou Azalea Garden and who killed her is still a mystery.
“I believe the police chief informed me there was a homicide and they were investigating it,” Durlin Lunt Jr., a lifetime Northeast Harbor resident and current town manager, said Monday.
“He didn’t have very many details, just that they had found a body over at the Asticou Gardens, blunt force trauma as far as they could tell,” he recalled.
Lunt was a selectman on June 19, 1977, when the body of Leslie Spellman was found at around 9:45 a.m. by tourists. The 27-year-old yoga instruction and her dog, Taylor, were last seen alive by her sister in Vermont the day before. The siblings separated, with Spellman hitchhiking towards MDI.
“It was a horrible thing, obviously, a young person like that with their whole life in front of them, taken away so suddenly and violently,” Lunt said. “It isn’t what we should be about as a society or a community.”
At first, who she was was a mystery. About a week after her death, Spellman’s family identified her and arrived in Maine to take custody of her dog, which was found just down the road from her body.
“I learned, shortly afterward, that she was from Hingham, Massachusetts and that she was a young woman,” Lunt said. “There was a lot of unanswered questions – Why? Was she here as a visitor? Was she here working? Was she here at all, or was she deposited here and murdered somewhere else?
“Then, of course, that leads to the other question: who did it.
“Was it somebody from away. Was it somebody here in town? That is where the community, obviously, would get concerned,” the town manager said.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think we know a lot more today than we did 40 some years ago,” Lunt later said.