CARIBOU (AP) – Detectives enlisted the help of the FBI Wednesday in the church arsenic poisoning investigation as three of the victims were upgraded from critical to serious condition.

Maine State Police Lt. Dennis Appleton told reporters that investigators were set to talk with FBI experts in a conference phone call to compile a profile of a suspect in the case.

Police have said that Daniel Bondeson, who fatally shot himself Friday, is at least “partially responsible” for the poisonings that killed one member of the Gustav Adolph Evangelical Church in New Sweden and sickened 15 others. Bondeson, 53, a part-time potato farmer, was a longtime member of the church.

But Appleton said police are still trying to determine if there was an accomplice. Investigators are not convinced Bondeson put the arsenic in the coffee that parishioners drank at a reception following Sunday services April 27.

Maine State Police sought the FBI’s assistance early in the investigation, but scheduled a call on Wednesday to share further information and to hear what ideas FBI agents have developed about the case, Appleton said.

Appleton did not know when the case might come to an end, but said investigators are optimistic they will soon be able to “answer the questions we have on the table.”

“I really feel we’re making progress,” Appleton said. “I’m not sure if we’re the hare or the tortoise, but we are making progress.”

In Bangor, officials at Eastern Maine Medical Center upgraded the conditions of seven poisoning victims. Four people who were in critical condition are now in serious condition, and three others who were in serious condition are now listed as fair. The Rev. Elaine Hewes, pastor of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bangor, said in a prepared statement that the victims and their families are hopeful that everyone will be restored to full health before too long.

“Naturally we look forward to the day when questions related to the investigation are resolved,” Hewes said. “There are many layers to the tragedy we are facing and many unanswered questions related to both the investigation and to medical uncertainties.”


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