RUMFORD — Shirtless and shoeless, 18-year-old Derek Harnden stood outside his apartment building on Washington Street on Thursday, staring in disbelief at police detectives in the street.

The Maine State Police Evidence Recovery Team detectives, who were following up leads in Monday night’s double homicide at 244 Pine St., had swabbed Harnden’s mouth with Q-tips.

“Well, I learned something new today,” Harnden said. “They swabbed my spit for DNA.”

Detective Scott Gosselin declined to say why police were gathering evidence from Harnden or whether police believed he was a suspect in the killings of Victor Reed Sheldon, 22, and Roger Leroy Day Jr., 48.

Sheldon and Day were shot to death in Day’s living room by a man police described Wednesday as in his 20s, about 6 feet tall, with a medium build and dark, shoulder-length hair.

“I think this is all bogus, but they have to do their job,” said Harnden’s mother, Louisa Ryan, of police questioning her son for possible involvement in the killings.

She said her son and Sheldon got into an altercation two weeks prior to the killings, but that was the end of it.

While detectives were questioning her son, Ryan was interviewed by Gosselin. “It’s all just a lot of rumors,” Ryan said. “They said Derek was seen walking with the shooter and that’s crap. He was with me until 8:30 Monday night and then a neighbor’s son came over and they watched movies in his apartment.”

Ryan and neighbor Rhonda Blood, whose son watched movies with Harnden on Monday night, said rumors were flying all over Rumford that Harnden was somehow involved.

Ryan said that after the killings, police kept a close watch of Harnden’s apartment and didn’t let anyone in.

Then, on Wednesday night, Ryan said police took Harnden and Blood’s son, who declined to be identified, from Harnden’s apartment for questioning.

“I had music blaring when they came to get me, and I thought they were going to take me to jail for that,” Harnden said.

Ryan said police remained at Harnden’s apartment all night Wednesday into Thursday, then got a search warrant Thursday afternoon and entered the apartment to gather evidence.

Ryan said police confiscated Harnden’s shoes to check them for forensic evidence. Harnden said they took his clothes but gave him a paper bag with a few items of clothing from his apartment.

“This is all stupid,” Blood said. “I think it’s going too far. And the TV news people coming here and taking pictures of his house when they don’t even know if he’s guilty, and people are going to assume that.”

The street has never been so busy, Blood said as car after car drove slowly past and people inside stared at them and Harnden’s apartment. “They go by really slow and look at the house. It’s ridiculous.”

Watching her son tossing a football back and forth on Washington Street with a young boy, Ryan said police had sealed off Harnden’s apartment and refused to allow him inside.

“He’s coming with me because he can’t even go back into his apartment until tomorrow,” Ryan said.

On Thursday afternoon, state and Rumford police shut down Portland Street across Memorial Bridge spanning the Androscoggin River so they could search the river between the bridge and NewPage Inc. paper mill downstream.

A pilot in a Maine Forest Service helicopter hovered low over the river on both sides of the bridge as a detective in the copilot’s seat took photographs and another detective hung partially outside the chopper’s bay door searching with binoculars.

People flocked to River Street in droves to watch the action as the chopper pilot maneuvered over trees and wires lining the river to hover just a few feet above the river. State police spokesman Steve McCausland said police were looking for evidence that may have been tossed or dropped from the bridge into the river.

Rumford resident Scott Bower said he watched as police on the bridge dropped weighted backpacks into the river to see where the strong current would take them.

“I don’t know if they were looking for a weapon, but it was like as if somebody jumped from the bridge,” Bower said.

“Police were also down on the rocks, but nobody could dive into that river with that current. That current gets real wicked strong there and it can carry stuff all the way down to the Swift River or even Peru in no time.”

Several people along the river and on Washington Street said they heard that a man grabbed a kid off Portland Street and jumped over the bridge into the river and that’s why the helicopter and police were there.

McCausland said no one jumped off the bridge. “They were just looking for evidence in connection with the killings,” he said.

Police had interviewed dozens of people in the past three days and were making “significant progress on the case,” McCausland said. They seized a car belonging to one of the victims and took it to the Maine State Police Crime Lab in Augusta to be checked for evidence, he said.

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Maine State Police Evidence Recovery Team detectives walk Rumford resident Derek Harnden, 18, of 123 Washington St. to a detective’s cruiser early Thursday evening after confiscating his shoes and taking his clothing as part of the investigation into Monday night’s double homicide at 244 Pine St. Harnden said he was taken in for questioning on Wednesday night and had his third-floor apartment searched on Thursday afternoon. He said he was not involved in the crimes. Police would not say why they questioned him.

A Maine State Police Evidence Recovery Team detective swabs the inside of Rumford resident Derek Harnden’s mouth to collect DNA on Thursday after state police searched his third-floor apartment at 123 Washington St. Police are investigating Monday night’s double homicide at nearby 244 Pine St. Harnden, 18, said police confiscated his shoes and clothing to check for forensic evidence, but gave him some of his clothes, which are in the bag in front of him. He said he was not involved in the crimes and police would not say why they were questioning him or taking his DNA.

While standing on Memorial Bridge over the Androscoggin River on Thursday afternoon in Rumford, a Maine State Police investigator directs state police investigators inside a Maine Forest Service helicopter hovering over the river downstream on where to go next to search for evidence connected to Monday night’s double homicide at 244 Pine St.

Dozens of people flocked to the Androscoggin River side of River Street in Rumford on Thursday afternoon to watch Maine State Police detectives inside the Maine Forest Service helicopter search for evidence in the river from Monday night’s double homicide at 244 Pine St.

Maine State Police investigators wearing Rumford Fire Department flotation jackets head toward the Androscoggin River on Thursday afternoon in Rumford to search for evidence in Monday night’s double homicide at 244 Pine St.

During the continued investigation into Monday night’s double homicide at 244 Pine St. in Rumford, Maine State Police Evidence Response Team detectives question Derek Harnden, 18, of 123 Washington St., Rumford, early Thursday evening prior to taking DNA swabs of his mouth near his home.

While a Maine State Police detective takes photographs of the Androscoggin River in Rumford out the copilot’s window of this Maine Forest Service helicopter, another detective searches the river just north of Memorial Bridge with binoculars for evidence connected to Monday night’s double homicide at 244 Pine St.


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