Police: Body found in Sebasticook River is man last seen in March

Game wardens and other rescue workers Sunday recover the body of Justin Howard, 36, from the Sebasticook River, just above the dam in Benton. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Watchman

CLINTON — The body of a man missing since late March was found in the Sebasticook River between the Benton Bridge and the dam, police said.

Clinton Police Department Chief Stanley “Rusty” Bell confirmed Sunday afternoon that the body of Justin Howard, 36, had been recovered.

According to police, Howard was last seen on March 28 running into the river near Pleasant Street.

“Someone called the sheriff’s office (Somerset County) around 2:30 p.m. (Sunday) afternoon and said they saw a body,” Bell said.

The Maine Warden Service, Somerset County Sheriff’s Office and Fairfield Rescue were involved in efforts to recover Howard’s body.

The circumstances surrounding Howard’s death do not appear suspicious, Bell said.

Game wardens and other rescue workers Sunday recover the body of Justin Howard, 36, from the Sebasticook River, just above the dam in Benton. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Watchman

“He was transported to the coroner’s office,” Bell said. “At this point we have nothing different[to announce]than when he went into the water. The Coroner’s Office will conduct a full assessment. They’ll determine the cause of death and then we’ll move on.”

Witnesses told police in March they saw Howard running down Pleasant Street and onto Water Street before entering the water.

Howard was last seen in a gray and blue sweatshirt, khaki pants and blue sneakers.

Most recently, Howard lived in the Waterville-Winslow area and was visiting friends on Pleasant Street in Clinton on the day he ran into the river and could not be found.

Crews searched the river for five days after Howard’s disappearance. Rescuers said the search was particularly difficult due to the fast-moving, cold water and rapids in the area. The search was also hampered because there is no jetty near where Howard disappeared.

Game wardens and other rescue workers Sunday recover the body of Justin Howard, 36, from the Sebasticook River, just above the dam in Benton. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Watchman

The search ended after crews could not find any trace of Howard.

When the report came in Sunday, rescue workers were able to reach and recover Howard’s body with the help of a private landowner riding an ATV.

“There’s nothing new to know at this point,” Bell said, “unless the coroner develops something that we didn’t anticipate.”

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