On Friday night, November 9, 2007, 25 year-old Matt LaCrosse met up with several friends at Carolina's Sports and Spirits. They slowly split off and LaCrosse ended up talking to a couple in their 30s who are believed to have been buying him drinks at the bar. He was later escorted out of the bar; it was the last time Matt LaCrosse was seen.On Friday, March 8, 2008, the body of Matt LaCrosse was pulled from the Penebscot River.
The Search and Investigation
Matthew Joseph LaCrosse, called "Matty" by friends was a graduate of Herman High School and had completed some college. He was an employee of the Home Depot and had a MySpace page describing himself as being interested in meeting new people. According to his sister, Brandie DiWitt, LaCrosse didn't own a car, have a driver's license, or have a lot of money. His family believed immediately that something had happened to him; he was used to going out to the bars with friends but he had never disappeared before. Friends and co-workers also agreed it was out of character for Matt to disappear. He also failed to show up for a good friend's birthday party on Sunday and it was out of character for him to skip out on plans.
Friends were also surprised to learn that Matt was kicked out of the bar; he never seemed the belligerent type. In fact, he was described as a big, friendly guy who always had a smile on his face. The bouncer at Carolina's confirms he did escort Matt out of the bar at around midnight. Some witnesses said Matt was perfectly coherent while others said he was too drunk to walk.
The next day Matt was reported missing by a co-worker after failing to show up to his job at the Home Depot.
On Monday, divers searched the Penebscot River, which is close to Carolina's Bar, but found no signs of Matt LaCrosse. A search of LaCrosse's cell phone and financial records showed no activity and he also did not show up again for work. Family members were interested in talking to the couple in their 30s whom Matt had been talking to the night he disappeared, but no one the police had spoken with recognized this couple. About 25 friends and co-workers searched the downtown Bangor area and along the waterfront from 10 a.m. until dusk with no luck.
The following day, Tuesday, the police finished interviewing patrons at the bar and LaCrosse's family, friends and co-workers and entered Matt's apartment where they removed his computer to search for clues to his disappearance.
Police concluded that if Matt were to walk home from the bar, he would cut through a park along the way. Carolina's Bar is situated under a highway overpass with a dimly lit parking lot along railroad tracks. Matt rented a room in a 10-person boarding house at 133 Essex Street about a half mile northeast of the bar. He had lived there just under a year and many of his house mates described Matt as happy-go-lucky, friendly and that he was very likable and got along well with others.
The search continued Wednesday when police, family and friends searched the downtown between Carolina's and his Essex Street apartment, as well as the shoreline of the Penebscot River. They also distributed fliers. Many people in Bangor recognized Matt as he was well known.
A close female friend of Matts who had also been with him Friday night at Carolina's and left before him said contrary to earlier reports, LaCrosse was wearing a navy-blue, long sleeved shirt on Friday, with blue jeans and sneakers.
A scent dog tracked Matt LaCrosse's scent from the bar to the State Street Bridge. About half way across the bridge, near a railing, the scent just stopped. The bridge overlooks the Kenduskeag Stream at the mouth of the Penebscot River. This finding led Maine Police dive team to search the mouth of the Kenduskeag Stream and Penebscot River with a boat equipped with special sonar. They found no sign of LaCrosse. Bangor Police Detective Sgt. Paul Kenison said, "there is no way to determine whether LaCrosse went into the stream, and if he did, whether he stumbled, was pushed or went in on his own accord." Police believed LaCrosse had fallen into the stream the night of Nov. 9.
After two months, the Bangor Daily News wrote an article stating that the investigation was still open, however no new evidence had been collected. Matt LaCrosse's brother-in-law stated "In all honesty, at this point we need to find my wife's brother's body. We need closure." The family had a difficult Christmas as Matt had purchased a gift for his sister Brandie which was delivered. He went on to add the Bangor Police Department has done just an outstanding job.
On Friday, March 8, 2008, the body of Matt LaCrosse was pulled from the Penebscot River in Stockton Springs, nearly 27 miles downstream from Bangor. The following Sunday, an autopsy was completed and the presumed cause of death was accidental drowning.
A visitation and celebration of Matthew "Matty" Joseph LaCrosse was held on Friday, April 4, 2008. His parents Albert J. and Ellen L. of Carmel, Maine were at the visitation along with many family and friends that was held from 5-8 p.m.
Facts of Interest
Name/age: Matthew LaCrosse, 25
Hometown: Bangor, ME
Residence: 133 Essex Street, Bangor, ME
Physical Description: 6'0", 250 pounds, brown hair, last seen wearing a green thermal shirt and blue jeans.
Last Seen: 11/9/07, Carolina's Sports and Spirits, 16 Union Street, Bangor, ME
Recovered: 3/8/08, Penebscot River, Stockton Springs, ME