Ricky Howard

WATERFORD — Colleen Pike-Howard and her friend Amanda Kennison have trudged through snow, crawled on their hands and knees, and ventured out in the sleet and rain to find Howard’s husband, Ricky Howard, a 49 year-old Waterford man who has been missing for five months.

“We’ve gone places and looked and handed out fliers, and talked to people, and spent the day out of state looking. We’re absolutely willing to do that. At this point, honestly, it’s her and me,” said Howard.

Ricky Howard, was last seen at his Waterford home, 440 Norway Road, on October 5, 2018, and his black 2008 Toyota RAV4 was found on Sunday, October 7, off Deer Hill Road in Waterford, along with his cellphone.  Despite extensive searches, and support from friends and the community, Howard said she and Kennison are no closer to finding Ricky.

“We’ve had some leads come in, and we checked those out, we heard that the Sheriff had gotten some, and they checked those out, but nothing was found. We’re  still asking anybody with any little thing to contact me on Facebook, or the Sheriff’s Office. We’re willing to go and look wherever,” said Howard.

Despite statements made by Oxford County Sheriff Deputy Chief James Urquhart to the Sun Journal in December of 2018 indicating that the case had been passed off to the Maine State Police’s Major Crime Unit, in a response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed on February 28, Maine State Police Staff Attorney Christopher Parr wrote  “the Maine State Police is neither involved with nor assisting with the investigation.”

“We’re passing the case off to major crimes not because there’s anything suspicious about it, but because it’s protocol,” Urquhart told the Sun Journal.

In an email this week,  Oxford County Sheriff Chief Deputy James Urquhart wrote, “Both agencies (Warden Service and Maine State Police) are involved in the case and have been since the beginning … Maine State Police due to the missing person aspect. Both agencies are assisting the Sheriff’s Office if we need additional assistance,” he wrote.

“We are not handing the case over to the State Police.  The only reason that would occur is if it was determined to be a suspicious death or suspicious circumstance.  As of now, nothing has led the investigators to believe that,” Urquhart wrote.

Urquhart wrote that he spoke with the case investigators on March 4, and the case remains an “active investigation that is being followed up on.” Urquhart indicated Oxford County Sheriff’s Deputy Zane Loper and Lt. Chancy Libby have been in contact with Howard to keep her informed, and there have been no “hits” on Howard in the National Crime Information Center, a nation-wide  electronic clearinghouse of crime data.

“Due to the season and weather, there are not going to be any additional searches until spring, and then only if new leads come in to indicate a search is warranted,” Urquhart wrote. ”

However, Howard said she’s not happy with what she perceives as a lack of communication on the part of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Department.  Howard said she calls once every few weeks, and finds it hard to get a response from the agency.

When the wife of a missing person calls you, and you’ve been the one on the case from the very beginning, follow through.  Just call and say, ‘hi Colleen, nothing to report today’,” she said. 

According to Howard, Ricky was new to Maine, and had only lived here for a few years before he went missing. A truck driver at Perry Transportation in Poland, Howard said Ricky was sick on the day he went missing, vomiting. Ricky had children and family in Ohio, as well as a brother, father, and Howard said the pair were actively looking for leads in that area. 

Howard said that the community response following her husband’s disappearance has been overwhelming. People have shared Howard’s Facebook posts from as far away as England; and community members have lent snowmobiles, gas, and even cadaver dogs and live search dogs.

“Recently, we  got in touch with some people on McWain Pond in Waterford who have camps. The owner said to me, just go in and look. He called me that Friday and said ‘I just want you to know, I talked to somebody, I sent snowmobiles down there, and they checked everything out, and everything’s good’.” For Howard, every little bit helps, and she and Kennison are already planning for organizing searches in the spring. 

“I’ve had some people touch base with me in the last few days, saying ‘spring’s coming, we’re going to do some more searches, let us know.’ We’re really not going to give up until we find my husband. I don’t know what the outcome is going to be; nobody does. We hope for the best,” said Howard.

“We’re going to need man-power again,” said Kennison. “We’re going to be doing some more searches, until he’s found. We’re going to need the man-power to get back out into the woods. We’ve done it, with just us two, and it’s very hard to do. The more people the better off it is.”

But, perhaps more importantly, the two are calling for anyone who may have seen Ricky to come forward.

“We’re going to continue to search for Ricky, so any tips or any leads, any little things would be helpful. If anyone saw him on that day, and hasn’t said anything. I think, in my opinion, sometimes people are afraid to be involved or to get involved for fear of, ‘am I going to be in trouble,” said Howard.

“We live in a small town. It does get very personal, living in a small town and saying something. I wish somebody would just say, ‘you know what, we picked him up,’ that’s all we need. Then at least we know he was alive at that point, if that’s the case. And that’s ok, they don’t need to answer anymore questions. Just say, ‘you know what, hey, I picked him up’,” said Kennison.

“He’s got to be someplace. Somebody, hopefully, will come forward and say, we were driving on that road, or we were 10 miles away and saw someone walking in this direction. That’s another direction we will go and look,” said Howard.  And for Howard, any little bit of information, no matter how small it seems, will help in her search.

“Even if it was a conversation that someone had with him a month before this happened, every little thing helps,” said Howard. 

But, no matter the outcome, Howard and Kennison said they will follow the search through until the end.

“I made her promise, when this first started, that we were going to follow it through until we find him. And then, I’ve kept my word to her. It’s been hard; we were talking on an everyday basis, and life has just gotten taken away. I don’t have to live in it everyday, but Colleen does,” said Kennison.

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