The Homicide Unit
By law, the Office of the Attorney General directs and controls the investigation and prosecution of homicides.
When a homicide occurs, Assistant Attorneys General assigned to the Homicide Unit of the Criminal Division respond and advise detectives from the investigating agency. The Maine State Police and Portland and Bangor police departments are the three agencies state-wide charged with the responsibility of investigating homicides. The prosecutors work closely with detectives, forensic scientists from the Crime Laboratory and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner during the course of the investigation. This collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach is utilized throughout the investigation and trial of the defendant. When an individual is convicted of murder or manslaughter, the Office of the Attorney General handles all appeal and post-conviction litigation.
The Unsolved Homicide Unit
Statewide, Maine has more than 100 cases, comprising unsolved murder cases, suspicious death cases and missing person cases in which criminal conduct is suspected. We recognize the public imperative in solving these cases. The failure to prosecute murderers for their crimes endangers the public safety, undermines public confidence in the criminal justice system and causes unspeakable pain to the loved ones of victims.
Historically, unsolved homicide cases have been assigned to the same group of detectives who investigate other major crimes, including new cases of homicide, child abuse, sexual assault, robbery, etc.. In 2015, the legislature funded two Maine State Police detectives and one forensic chemist to work exclusively on unsolved murder cases in coordination with a dedicated prosecutor in the Office of the Attorney General. These professionals are joined by a Victim Advocate who is dedicated to serving the family members of victims.
This multi-disciplinary team, Maine’s first Unsolved Homicide Unit, reviews these cases with “fresh eyes” and collaborates with law enforcement, medical examiners, forensic scientists and other experts to create new momentum to solve these crimes and hold offenders accountable.
Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel
This panel is established by the Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse. It is chaired by an Assistant Attorney General, who is also a homicide prosecutor. Members of the Panel include the Chief Medical Examiner, a physician, a nurse, a law enforcement officer, the Commissioners of Corrections and Public Safety, a judge, a prosecutor, an Assistant Attorney General who handles child protection cases, a victim-witness advocate, a mental health service provider, a facilitator of a batterers' intervention program, and persons designated by the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence. The Panel reviews homicides cases where the victim has been killed by a family or household member. The Panel recommends methods of improving systems for protecting persons from domestic and sexual abuse, including modifications of laws, policies and procedures.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a homicide?
During an autopsy, a medical examiner determines the manner in which a person died. A case is a homicide if a medical examiner characterizes the manner of death as homicide, rather than accident, suicide, natural causes or undetermined.
Additionally, there are cases which are potential homicides. These are cases in which a person is missing or has died under suspicious circumstances. The Office of Attorney General takes an active role in directing these investigations as well.
What is an unsolved homicide case?
This is a known or potential homicide case in which three years or more have passed without an individual having been charged. Not included are cases in which there is evidence which establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that the person responsible is dead, or cases in which constitutional and legal principles preclude prosecution. Examples include cases in which the defendant was acquitted after trial and cases involving a clear legal defense, such as self-defense.
Which cases will be assigned to the Unsolved Homicide Unit?
Maine State Police and the Bangor and Portland police departments will continue to assign unsolved homicide cases to their detectives. These detectives will collaborate with the Office of the Attorney General, State Crime Laboratory, Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and other agencies to identify the individual or individuals responsible and bring them to justice. The members of the UHU will review unsolved homicide cases and deploy additional forensic and investigative resources to those cases which are most likely to be solved. This will ensure that that no victim is forgotten, no case goes unattended and that additional resources of the unit are deployed for optimal effect.
A member of my family was murdered. The system is confusing, and I am overwhelmed. Does your office provide help?
Yes. We have three Victim Advocates who can be reached at 626-8800. They can provide you with information and support during the investigation, trial and post-trial process. If you are the victim of a violent crime or a family member of a homicide victim, the Victim Advocate can provide you with information relating to the Maine Victims' Compensation Program. The Victim Advocate can also assist you in filing applications with the Department of Corrections so that you are notified of the release of the defendant.
How can I provide information that may aid in the investigation of a homicide?
If you have any information about any homicide, new or unsolved, please provide that information to the investigating agency, below:
Bangor Police Department: 207-947-7382 Ext. # 6
Maine State Police, Major Crimes Units: https://www.maine.gov/dps/msp/about/report-crime
Portland Police Department - Submit tips by calling the tip line: @ 207-874-8584.
- Homicide Survivor's Guide (PDF)
- 2020 Report of the Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel (PDF)
- 2018 Report of the Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel (PDF)
- 2016 Report of the Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel (PDF)
- 2014 Report of the Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel (PDF)
- Maine State Police unsolved homicides and missing persons
- Maine Department of Corrections Victim Services
- Portland Police Department unsolved homicides and missing persons page
- Center for Grieving Children
- National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs)
- The Compassionate Friends
- Concerns of Police Survivors
- Mothers against drunk driving
- National Center for Victims of Crime
- National Organization for Victim Assistance
- National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children