CANTON — A week after police swarmed a local man’s property, using ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs to search for the body of a 17-year-old girl who has been missing for 29 years, this tiny Oxford County town is swirling with rumors.
Rumors and questions.
“A lot of whys. A lot of people are asking, ‘Why?'” Brandy St. Laurent, an employee at Canton Variety, said.
Police suspended the search Sunday after a four-day hunt turned up little. But because the dogs showed interest in the land next to the property owned by Brian Enman, one of the last people to see Kimberly Moreau alive, police have said they expect to soon return to the area.
Police have given few details about the search, including why they’re now scouring a property that Enman didn’t own until 14 years after Kimberly Moreau disappeared. The affidavit supporting the search warrant is under seal by the court, so the reasons for the search remain blocked from the public for now.
It’s left Canton’s 1,000 residents questioning whether Enman is connected to the disappearance or police are just “grasping at straws” as Enman has claimed. With facts hard to come by, the questions have generated speculation and rumor.
Kimberly Moreau’s family knows about living with questions. They’ve done so for 29 years.
But as they wait for police to resume the search, they also have something they haven’t had in a while: hope.
“To have all of these resources up there (during the search) tells me we’re in the right place,” said Kimberly Moreau’s father, Richard, two days after the search was temporarily suspended. “We just haven’t found the right spot.”
‘That changed everything’
Kimberly Moreau — Kim — grew up in Jay, the youngest of three sisters. Family members remember her as “prim and proper,” the kind of girl who wanted her hair done, makeup perfect, outfit spotless before she’d leave the house.
“She always was like that,” said her father, 73. “She would never leave the house without having her purse with her and her makeup and her hairbrush and all the other things that she needed.”
Tall and slender, with a bright smile, Kim dreamed of becoming a model.
But Kim was also, her father said, “in many ways a very, very difficult teenager.” She didn’t care for school and did just enough to get through her classes. She began running with a new crowd.
“When she started hanging around with Rhonda (Breton), she started changing her friends,” Moreau said. “Today, that’d be a heck of a warning sign to me. But back then, well, you know, kids are kids and they keep changing who they’re with and so forth.”
In May 1986, Kim planned to attend Jay High School’s junior prom with her boyfriend, Mike Staples. But a couple of days before the dance, her father said, she caught Staples cheating on her. She canceled their prom date.
“That changed everything from that moment on,” Moreau said.
Instead of going to the prom on May 10, Kim hung out with Breton. According to various reports over the years, the girls ended up connecting with Enman and his friend Darren Joudrey, both 25. Around 11 p.m., a car pulled up in front of Kim’s house and Kim ran inside. She told her sister she was going for a ride and would be back in an hour. She did not take anything with her, including her purse.
Some say Joudrey left for work before Kim stopped at her house. Joudrey could not be reached for comment.
Kim never returned home.
Her family went to police, but there were delays in the investigation. Her family had to wait 48 hours to report her missing. Then, by error, she wasn’t listed in a missing person database. Police didn’t start looking into her disappearance until four months later.
Her father and other family members investigated on their own. At first, Kim’s father thought Staples might have been involved in her disappearance but then quickly ruled him out. Moreau had an eight-hour discussion with the teenager and found Staples distraught over Kim’s disappearance.
Moreau talked with Kim’s friends, with friends of friends, with anyone who might know anything about what happened that night. Within two days of Kim’s disappearance, Moreau came to a heart-breaking conclusion: His daughter was dead.
“She was gone within four hours of the time she left my house,” he said. “I guarantee it.”
Rumors, speculation and the search
Many people say there was partying that night and Moreau believes his daughter either overdosed or was accidentally killed. No one has ever been charged with her disappearance.
Breton moved to California two years after Kim vanished. She was hit by a car and killed in 2009.
Enman has said he dropped Kim off in another part of Jay early that morning and she planned to walk home — a move that, to her family, seemed out of character for Kim since she was afraid of the dark.
Enman recently told the Kennebec Journal that he, Joudrey, Breton and Kim drove around that day, drank and did cocaine before he dropped her off to walk home alone. Last week, he told the Sun Journal that “people are just grasping at straws” in searching his property.
“If they come up with nothing, I’m going to be even more upset,” Enman said last week. “They come in, humiliating me. I’ve got my name plastered all over Facebook. They have no proof of nothing yet.”
Asked point-blank last week if he’d hidden Kim’s body on his property, Enman said, “No.” Asked if police would find anything on his property, Enman said, “Not that I know of.”
Asked if he knew what had happened to Kim that night, Enman said, “If I knew, I’d be saying.”
Enman did not return calls seeking comment for this story.
There have been multiple searches for Kim’s body over the past three decades. For a while, the focus was on Meadowview, an area that had been a popular party spot in Canton in the mid-1980s.
The turn to Enman’s property last week surprised many people in town. The land is not near Meadowview and Enman didn’t buy it until 2000, long after Kim disappeared.
“They wonder about the tip that (police) got. Why search there after such a long period of time?” asked Jane Lueders, who owns the Floodzone Farms farm stand in town. “They thought that was kind of weird.”
Rumors have swirled.
Some believe that area must have been a party spot in 1986, but town Administrator Scott Kilbreth, who lived in town then, said the 5-acre parcel was a working farm at the time and not a popular place to go.
Enman did live near the property as a child and knew it well growing up, Kilbreth said. However, that was 10 years before Kim disappeared. The property has had three owners since 1986.
Some believe Joudrey, who was arrested in 2013 for drug trafficking, was nabbed by police for violating his probation last week and he tipped them off in order to avoid jail time. But the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency said it hasn’t had anything to do with Joudrey recently and police in Mexico, where Joudrey lives, said they haven’t been to his house in a month. That visit, they said, was uneventful.
Rumors are nothing new to the case.
“There’s just so much crap out there; you can’t believe everything,” said Kim’s oldest sister, Diane Levesque. “If we believed everything, there’s no way I would have made it, or my father or any of us, for the last 29 years.”
With so few facts known, some wonder whether the search of Enman’s property is unwarranted.
“I think they’re way off base because, I mean, he’s only owned that property for a little while,” said Michael Sanborn, who lives in nearby Hartford and knows Enman.
Others believe this search, with its ground-penetrating radar, cadaver dogs and other resources, is different from past searches. For the Moreau family, in particular, it feels more intense.
“I think we have the best team of people,” Richard Moreau said. “I think the detective is being absolutely thorough and being very cautious on what’s going on. To me it’s very, very uplifting to have, like, the ground-penetrating radar, and it seems like no matter what it is that we need, it’s there.”
But whatever their thoughts on the case, residents in Canton agree on one thing: They want Kim found.
“As a father and grandfather, it’s disturbing that those people who know don’t come forward and let this rest in peace,” Kilbreth said. “Just bring her home.”