Media Archive

Baby remains recovered at Milo residence

Article from Bangor Daily News, Monday, April 05, 2004

By Dawn Gagnon
of the NEWS Staff

Staff from the Maine state Medical Examiner's Office survey the scene where the body of an infant allegedly was burned in Milo.

BANGOR -The remains of an infant were recovered Saturday from a burn pile outside a residence on Lyford Road by personnel from the state Medical Examiner's Office.Authorities would not comment on the condition of the remains, which were taken to the medical examiner's office in Augusta, where an autopsy is planned for today.

The remains were recovered from a pile of burned debris in the back yard of the home owned by Ralph Disley, 46, who lives there with his wife, Kelly, and their two teenage daughters. Disley is the owner of Little Bear Canoe Co., which he runs from his home.

Police went to the residence late Friday morning, after receiving a tip from a resident who believed that remains of an infant were on Disley's property.

When Maine State Police detectives arrived, they found Disley burning what appeared to be the remains of an infant in the back yard, just beyond a large shed or workshop at the end of the short driveway along his home.

Disley was arrested and charged with abuse of a corpse. He was taken to the Piscataquis County Jail in Dover-Foxcroft, where he posted $200 bail and was released Friday afternoon.

Investigators secured the property and covered the fire scene with a tarp Friday. They returned Saturday morning to conduct a search of the yard and the house. During that search, they confirmed finding an infant's remains.

"We have found in a pile of burned debris what the Medical Examiner's Office believes quite certainly is the remains of an infant," Lt. Dennis Appleton of the state police Criminal Investigation Division said Saturday during a news conference on Lyford Road, across the road from the Disley residence.

The family was not at home during Saturday's search. Appleton said the investigation was still under way and that it was not clear when the family would be allowed to return.

A neighbor said she believed the Disleys were staying with friends in the area. The neighbor, who declined to be identified, spoke highly of the Disleys.

"They're a good family," she said. She said the family moved to Maine from Massachusetts about a dozen years ago and that Ralph Disley was a good neighbor, always willing to lend a hand. "[Ralph] is the sweetest man that I know. They only way I can see him involved in something like this is if he was covering up or helping someone else."

Though the death is being considered "suspicious," Appleton said investigators had not yet determined whether it was the result of foul play. As of Saturday, authorities also had yet to determine whether the infant was born alive or stillborn, or who, if anyone, in the Milo household might have been pregnant.

"I guess I'm not going to speculate on that," he said. "It's way too early to speculate at this time. We may never be able to establish the manner of death."

Appleton also said members of the Disley family were cooperating with police to some extent. "The family has chosen to talk to us in a very limited way," he said.

Appleton declined to comment on whether police recovered any other evidence at the property.

"I'm being told there's a lot more work to be done," he said.

Besides searching the home and property, police interviewed several people in the community who might have information regarding the incident. Appleton said leads continue to come in.

Saturday's search and recovery operation involved numerous state police and Medical Examiner's Office representatives, as well as the state police mobile crime lab and state Fire Marshal's Office mobile command unit. Uniformed officers from Milo and Brownville assisted with security.

During the search of the burn pile, staff from the Medical Examiner's Office pored over the debris with a rake and sifting equipment.

Investigators used metal stakes and cameras to document where the remains were found. They also marked off a second "area of interest" elsewhere in the yard.

"There was no apparent scattering of remains," Appleton said, adding that some items found near the infant in the burn pile were removed for testing.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.