Farmington man arrested in Brunswick 1979 killing of child

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A Farmington man was arrested Friday in connection with the death of his young son, nearly 38 years ago in Brunswick.

The arrest followed the indictment of 62-year-old Burton “Ben” Hagar on murder charges by a Cumberland County grand jury. Hagar, who now lives in Farmington, was arrested just before noon at his home on Marvel Street by State Police detectives and transported to the Franklin County jail.

He will make his first appearance in Cumberland County Superior Court at 1 p.m. on Wednesday.

Hagar is charged in connection with the death of his four-month-old son, Nathan Hagar, who was found unresponsive in the family’s 16 School St. apartment and died later at Parkview Hospital in Brunswick on May 9, 1979, according to Maine State Police Spokesman Stephen McCausland.

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According to the State Police Unsolved Homicide page: “On Wednesday, May 9 1979, Venus Hagar was home with her husband, Burton Hagar and 4 month old son, Nathan Hagar who was reportedly healthy and alert. Venus went to visit a neighbor and when she returned later, she and her husband went to Nathan’s bedroom and found him deceased.”

The death originally was investigated as a SIDS death, but State Police detectives reopened the case quietly in 1991. In the past year, police said detectives gathered new information about the death and coordinated the investigation with the new Unsolved Homicide Unit, which led to the Attorney General’s Office presenting the case to the grand jury this week.

Local records reveal little of Hagar’s life since the death of his son in 1979. He married a Hebron woman in 1996 but then divorced her in 2010, according to court records.

In 2005, he was charged and convicted of driving with a suspended license in Lewiston’s 8th District Court.

The chief of the State Police praised the new investigative unit with bringing charges in its first case. Colonel Robert Williams said, “There are more than 100 Maine unsolved homicides and the new unit is reviewing each case. The hard work of this dedicated group from State Police and the Attorney General’s Office have brought this first unsolved homicide to this point, and there will be other success stories as their work continues.”

The new Unsolved Homicide Unit has been fully staffed since February of 2016. This also is the oldest unsolved homicide case State Police have resolved. The oldest up until now was the arrest of a man in 2012 for an Augusta homicide that took place in 1976, 36 years earlier.

This story will be updated.

Burton “Ben” Hagar

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