PARIS — A year ago Sunday, 16-year old high school student Xavier Fuentes was struck and killed walking home from the movies in a hit-and-run incident, which his mother, Sheila Cole, thinks of daily. 

“It’s been the longest year of my life,” Cole said. “At the same time, it’s gone by so fast. You try to be patient every day, but I’m finding it’s harder to be patient.”

The year has brought numerous media interviews, but also frustration, tears and few leads as police wait in limbo for the backlog of evidence at the Maine State Crime Lab to be processed.  

“One of the most frustrating things is if individuals responsible would have cooperated from the beginning, we would have answers. Their lack of cooperation intensifies the trauma from his death,” Cole said.  

Fuentes’s body was found by a passing motorist around 8:30 p.m. near the Brett Hill Road intersection on Route 117, about 4 miles from the former Flagship Cinemas movie Theater in Oxford. 

“I’m having a hard time with it because Sunday is the anniversary,” his mother said. “It keeps that wound very wide open. All we want is closure. To understand what happened and what made them think driving off was a good choice. We want some answers from those involved with his death.” 


Police have identified suspects living in the Lewiston-Auburn area, but have yet to make an arrest as evidence from the crime scene goes through processing. The Paris Police Department, which is overseeing the investigation, keeps in regular contact with the family, though lately there’s been less to report. 

Paris police Lt. Jeffrey Lange said leads have dropped off dramatically, though they’re still anticipating to hear good news from the lab. 

“They called my husband this afternoon to reiterate the same thing: They’re waiting for forensics to come back before they can move forward,” Cole said.

Lab director Lt. William Harwood said the number of cases hasn’t risen, just the complexity of each, with some taking months to more than a year to process. 

“If a case has one request for DNA on a drop of blood, that case can be processed far more quickly than a second case, which has clothing, bedding and 30 miscellaneous items from a scene,” Harwood said in an email Friday. 

While unable to comment on specific cases, Harwood said a recently completed accreditation process has allowed staff to focus on reducing the backlog. Five years ago, amid the popularity of forensics on television shows, 500 cases were pending. Today that number is closer to 100 to 200. 


“There is still work to be done to reduce turnaround times on all cases,” he said.  

Cole is focusing on staying upbeat. Her son is expecting a baby soon, and she’s busy with preparations. 

He’ll be named Bentley Xavier after his uncle.

“It’s exciting; we’re looking forward to it,” she said. “It’s a blessing in spite of everything.” 

Anyone with information or possible leads is asked to call the Paris Police Department at 207-743-7448 or email

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