Legislature approves cold case unit


AUGUSTA – It’s been 15 years since teenager Ashley Ouellette of Saco was found dead in the middle of Pine Point Road in Scarborough and there have still been no arrests in her murder.

Now the Maine Legislature has passed a bill that calls on the Attorney General’s Office to create a cold case homicide unit to investigate unsolved murders.

Ouellette’s family was a key supporter of the bill, along with many others across the state who are still waiting to get closure in the murder of their loved ones.

“Victims’ families need closure. They deserve to know what happened to their loved ones and to have the perpetrators brought to justice,” state Sen. Linda Valentino, D-Saco, said.

Valentino is the Senate chairwoman of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee and added, “investing in a cold case homicide unit will not only bring closure to the families, but also send a strong message that Maine will never give up on these cases until justice is done.”

Valentino said with the passage of the bill, “The families who have waited so long for justice (will now have) access to the best cold case unit we can provide.”

Maine has 120 cold cases dating back to 1953. The creation of the cold case unit is expected to cost $430,000, and Attorney General Janet Mills is now working with Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud to apply for a grant from the National Institute of Justice.

If the grant application is successful, Maine could receive up to $300,000 to help fund the new cold case unit. In addition to Michaud, Gov. Paul LePage has also expressed support for the grant and is expected to sign the bill, LD 1743, which was unanimously approved in both the House and Senate.

– Kate Irish Collins