Homeless man’s death a homicide, police say


BANGOR (AP) – The death of a homeless man whose body was found burning underneath a bridge was declared a homicide on Thursday.

Flames were shooting 2 feet high when the body of 34-year-old Trevor Sprague was discovered on March 7, and it took several days to identify the body.

Investigators initially found nothing to indicate the presence of an accelerant such as gasoline, but detectives had no comment on that Thursday. And the state medical examiner did not release the cause of death at the request of prosecutors.

Detective Sgt. Paul Kenison said detectives are following leads. “We’ll continue to talk to people and go where the evidence leads us,” he said.

Sprague, who was from Lubec, had been staying at a Bangor homeless shelter and was known to have stayed on occasion under the bridge, a site where the homeless sometimes congregated.

His death spurred concern that he was targeted because he was homeless.

The speculation was fueled by a series of reports of assaults on the homeless, including a case in which a man was kicked in the stomach and set on fire while sleeping on a park bench in Boston.

In Florida, teenagers were caught on videotape earlier this year beating a homeless man, prompting a bill in that state that could increase the penalties for those who attack people living on the street.

Last week, Gov. John Baldacci signed a bill to ensure that attacks on the homeless are prosecuted just as severely as attacks on people because of their age, race or sexual orientation.

Even though the law has not yet gone into effect, it’s possible that prosecutors could use the law to argue for a lengthier sentence if someone is convicted in Sprague’s death, said Chuck Dow of the attorney general’s office.