The victim’s parents hope public has answers.

BRIDGTON – The parents of 16-year-old Jesse Wildes of Bridgton want to bring closure to their son’s death, and are asking the public for help.

Someone, somewhere knows something about who struck and killed their son as he lay on the Mill Hill Road in Waterford Aug. 24. Tim and Jackie Wildes are sure of it.

Preferring not to appear on camera, they sat inside the Bridgton Police Station as Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland led a press conference outside with Andre Paradis, the Maine State Police trooper in charge of the hit-and-run investigation. After 16 days and nearly 250 interviews, police still haven’t been able to locate the driver involved.

“There is a vehicle out there. There is a driver out there. And we’re hoping some people will come forward with some information” that will identify both, McCausland said.

Vehicle autopsy experts at the Maine State Police crime lab were unable to find any evidence tying Wildes’ death to either of the two Ford Escorts, one white, one blue, seized by police as part of the investigation.

The white Escort was voluntarily turned over to police by a Stoneham man who thought he might have been the driver. Turns out, McCausland said, that the Stoneham man wasn’t even on Mill Hill Road that night. A tip led police to seize the blue Escort from a Gray resident, but McCausland said, “There wasn’t anything on these vehicles that indicated either one of them was involved.” The fact that both cars were Escorts was a coincidence.

Police also were not able to find much evidence at the scene, McCausland said.

Maine State Police have more than a dozen investigators and detectives working on the case, and McCausland said Wildes’ parents believe police are doing all they can to find the driver.

“I hesitate to say we’re starting over,” said Trooper Andre Paradis. “But it is very frustrating. We have spent a lot of time with this case. We’re looking for that one last piece of information.”

The autopsy on Wildes’ body is complete, but results are not all in, McCausland said. However, he said Tuesday “there’s a very strong possibility alcohol was a factor on (Wildes) part.”

Wildes’ body was found at 2 a.m. laying partially in the road just below Coolidge Hill by a resident on the hill, Robin Dekutoski, who was taking her baby-sitter home.

It’s known that earlier that evening, Wildes was with friends at a party at the Keoka Beach Campground, about a half-mile away from the accident scene. Sometime after 1 a.m., other residents of the road saw Wildes, who was then still alive and laying on the roadside at a different location on the road. They brought him to their home to call for a ride home, but Wildes wandered off, McCausland said.

Paradis said police are not ruling out the possibility that Wildes was run over, or that the driver responsible for Wildes’ death did not realize he had struck a person.

Whatever vehicle hit Wildes could have very minimal, if any, front-end damage, said McCausland, but he added “It’s likely the person that hit Jesse knows it.”

McCausland later acknowledged that the driver might not have known anything more than he or she hit a bump in the road.

The medical examiner’s office has determined that Wildes died of head and neck injuries in what McCausland described as “a glancing blow.”

“Someone knows something that could make or break this case,” McCausland said.

Paradis asked anyone with information that might help the case to call 1-800-228-0857.



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