I don’t mean to be overly dramatic. But there are ghosts afloat in our fine community. 

I know this because the other day, I was having a casual conversation with my father-in-law in the backyard when one of these ghosts came to visit. 

“Whatever happened,” my father-in-law wanted to know, “with that young lady who was found drowned at The Basin over in Auburn?” 

And like that, the haunting was upon me as memories of the case came drifting back. 

Jessica Gallant, 35, and the mother of a 4-month-old baby boy. On July 29, 2018, Gallant’s unclothed body was found floating about 20 feet offshore at about 5:30 a.m. in The Basin at the northern tip of Lake Auburn. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be drowning combined with drug intoxication. 

The death of Gallant was never declared a homicide, but the questions about her demise were plenty. How did she get to The Basin? Why was she nude when her body was found? If someone had been with her earlier on that sad night, who was that person and what was his role in the matter? 


At the Sun Journal, we asked these questions for a long time. We filled out Freedom of Access Act forms to get copies of the medical examiner’s report. We bugged the police about the case every other day. 

And then other news came along, the tragic case of Jessica Gallant was shoved onto a back burner and ultimately forgotten. Now five years have passed and I hadn’t thought of Gallant until I was asked about it in casual conversation. I imagine her friends and family think about her every day, but for the rest of us, Gallant has become a ghost — an occasional apparition that does her haunting in the shape of a big question mark. 

The case of Samantha Folsom goes back even further and yet her ghost is upon me quite regularly. 

On Nov. 9, 2011, Folsom’s parents went to her apartment in the Place Ste. Marie apartment complex in Lewiston after failing to hear from their daughter for three days. Folsom was found curled up in the fetal position inside a closet. How she got there? Nobody knows, and since ghosts don’t talk to us, that question has haunted many going on 12 years now. 

I was at the scene the day Folsom’s body was discovered and it was a mystery from the get-go. No screams, thuds or loud arguments were heard by neighbors. Nobody seemed to know who Folsom was with or what they were doing in the hours and minutes before Folsom drew her last breath and ended up in the closet. 

Samantha had a young son and a family and friends who loved her immensely. Her death was declared a homicide and in the early days, there was said to be a suspect, but since then? Nothing. 


Well, not nothing. Ghosts wouldn’t be ghosts if they didn’t make at least occasional appearances. 

In 2017, Folsom’s death was the subject of an episode on TV journalist Chris Hansen’s show “Crime Watch Daily.” The title of the episode was “Who Killed Samantha Folsom,” and yes, that is the very question that haunts us even now, more than a decade after the fact. 

In 2021, Maine State Police listed the Folsom case as one of its cold cases. “UNSOLVED HOMICIDE” went the headline on the state police Facebook page, followed by details of Folsom’s death. 

By that point, the Folsom case had haunted the community for 10 years. The effects of her death, with all of the mystery surrounding it, took its toll in various ways. Her parents, torn apart by the trauma of it, ultimately divorced. Folsom’s father has since died.

There may be one or two people who have the answers about Folsom’s last minutes upon the earth, but as is almost always the case, those people aren’t talking, no matter how many anguished pleas come their way.

“Somebody out there knows something that could help solve this crime,” one local woman posted. “Whoever you are, if you are responsible for killing her, or know of someone who may have, find your conscience and do the right thing.” 


But of course, those appeals have gone nowhere, just as they have in other notorious unsolved homicides — all 75 of them — from around the state.  

So many ghosts and so little column space to write about them. 

I’d still like to know who bludgeoned Dorothy Milliken to death outside a Lewiston laundromat in 1976. 

I’d like to know who set the apartment house fire on Ash Street in Lewiston in 2001 that claimed the life of 84-year-old Helen Caron. 

I’d like to know who shot and killed 40-year-old Butch Weed in Wilton while he sat at his desk two days before Christmas in 2003.

I’d like to know — who wouldn’t? — what happened to Kimberly Moreau, who vanished “into thin air,” as they say, in May of 1986. 


And Lord, how we’d all like to know what happened to 20-month-old Ayla Reynolds and why.

I’d like answers to all of them, frankly, because it is my opinion that missing persons and unsolved killings are unhealthy for a community. When a girl not even 2 years old vanishes and there’s nothing we can do about it, it leaves us with feelings not just of frustration, but of impotence. Unsolved crimes of this nature are specters that gnaw at the collective memories of the community and make us wonder if we’re really safe and secure. If anyone is. These cases haunt and haunt and haunt. 

It’s just one big collection of burning questions and grand frustrations. Friends and family of the dead want to know — and maybe need to know — why their loved one is no longer with them. Police want to catch the bad guys and reporters want to give firm answers to a tense and angry public. 

Nobody wants to stand in his backyard, shrugging and muttering “I don’t know” when asked about a death that once galvanized the public but which has since been forgotten. 

It’s a good thing we have those ghosts, I suppose. Otherwise we might forget these dead forever and that would be a shame.

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