LEWISTON — Maine State Police have alerted the family of a woman who went missing in 1983 after finding a body in a storage unit on North Lisbon Street.
Stephen McCausland, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman, said it was unclear whether the body is that of Kitty I. Wardwell, who was reported missing 28 years ago after last being seen with her former boyfriend, Frank Julian. However, McCausland said, Wardwell's family had been notified of the discovery.
"We're keeping both families in the loop," he said. "We don't know yet who the body is."
Lewiston detectives were notified Friday afternoon of a body discovered at Moore Self Storage. McCausland said the body was inside a freezer within the storage locker. The freezer was not plugged in.
McCausland said the storage locker was rented by Francis “Frank” Julian, a Bangor native. Julian died Oct. 1 at the age of 80.
Lewiston Police Chief Michael Bussiere said members of Julian's family were cleaning out the storage unit when they opened the freezer and discovered human remains. Bussiere said Lewiston detectives found evidence that led them to believe the body might be Wardwell's. At that point, Bussiere said, they notified state police, which had investigated Wardwell's disappearance as a missing person case.
McCausland would not comment on the condition of the body. However, he said workers with the State Medical Examiner's Office had to remove the freezer unit with the body still inside to perform an autopsy. McCausland said the medical examiner would begin efforts to identify the body on Monday.
Police say Julian had been renting the unit since 1992. An employee for Moore Self Storage said police investigators removed all rental records when they finished canvassing the scene Saturday morning.
State Police on Saturday interviewed Julian's family members who discovered the body.
Julian had nine children from relationships with two other women.
Wardwell, who is listed on the Maine State Police missing persons website, was first reported missing by her friend William Desmond. She was 29 at the time of her disappearance. Julian was 52.
At the time, Julian told police in Salem, N.H., that he left Wardwell at a motel there after the couple got into a fight. A subsequent investigation led police to believe that Wardwell was likely the victim of foul play.
The State Police missing persons website described Wardwell as being 5-feet-7-inches tall and 120 pounds at the time of her disappearance. Police did not have a photo of Wardwell, unlike other missings persons listed on the site.
According to his online obituary, Julian attended John Bapst High School in Bangor where he played football. He later moved to Lewiston where he owned Julian's Discount, a novelty store at 272 Main St.
Julian's family members did not immediately return calls for comment Saturday afternoon.
Calls to Wardwell's family members were also not returned.