Police continue to investigate the June 14 death of a 28-year-old former Waldoboro man on Vinalhaven.
Roger Feltis’ injuries were inflicted by a knife during a confrontation at the home of Dorian and Briannah Ames, according to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesperson Stephen McCausland. Briannah Ames was injured during the confrontation.
Investigators from the Maine State Police and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office will continue to review evidence, including autopsy results and interviews, and consult with the Maine Attorney General’s Office. No one has been charged with a crime.
Police gave the information about Feltis’ injuries Friday, June 19, five days after Feltis died. Friends and relatives had been impatient with police, who had released few details on the case.
As of the morning of Thursday, June 18, investigators would not say how he died or provide any details on the circumstances that led to his death.
The night of June 14, police were called to Vinalhaven following a report of a man bleeding from the neck and a woman with a partially severed hand at a residence on Roberts Cemetery Road.
The lack of answers in the days after his death left many who knew Feltis puzzled. Marches remembering Feltis and demanding police action took place on Vinalhaven and in Rockland on Sunday, June 21.
“My community has been so devastated and I am just trying to do my part to help people begin to heal and deal with this awful tragedy,” said Lila Bickford, a Vinalhaven resident who knew Feltis and is helping organize the island march. “That is not going to happen until Roger gets the justice he deserves.”
Maine State Police and Knox County sheriff’s detectives were on Vinalhaven from the night of June 14 through June 16, conducting interviews and collecting evidence. On June 17, they returned to the mainland to process evidence and review autopsy results, according to McCausland.
As of June 17, McCausland said that he believed the autopsy was complete, but wouldn’t release further details. He said when police “make conclusions we will share them.”
Feltis moved to Vinalhaven from Waldoboro several months ago. He worked as a sternman on a lobster boat based out of Vinalhaven. He also worked as a clammer.
Those who knew Feltis remembered him for his big heart and said he had unconditional love for his 4-year-old daughter, his girlfriend, and the ocean.
“Roger had fallen on hard times before, but he had really started to put a proper life together for himself. He had a girlfriend he’d swear up and down was his soul mate; he had good work on a boat with a captain he respected,” his older brother Adam Feltis said. “He loved his daughter. She gave him the strength to do better, she really did.”
Adam Feltis said his brother never wanted any work “that didn’t come with salty air.” Even in his off time, he enjoyed competing in lobster boat races.
But his skill set and hobbies weren’t just tethered to the sea. Roger Feltis loved a good burnout – spinning the wheels of Chevrolet trucks. He loved riding around on four-wheelers, being outdoors, and, above all, he loved to laugh.
“His entire Facebook feed was just him tagging people into crude memes,” Adam Feltis said. “He’d do the stupidest things to get a laugh out of folks.”
Adam Feltis said his brother could “turn a wrench like no one’s business” and would lend a hand to anyone who needed help turning them, too. Even if he didn’t have the solution, Roger Feltis would always work to find one, said his girlfriend, Jennie Candage.
“He was passionate about everything he put his mind to,” she said. “He would do anything for anyone, and if he didn’t know how to fix something, he would find a way to do it.”
Friends said they will miss hearing him yell, “Yewww” or “Yeah boy,” expressions he made frequently. His family will miss the crazy stories he shared in their group chat. Adam Feltis said he will miss seeing his younger brother grow up.
“I don’t get to see all the good he’d do. I don’t get to see him become a better man than he already was,” Adam Feltis said. “His daughter doesn’t get to grow up with him around, and he was such a great dad.”
Vinalhaven boasts the largest year-round population of Maine’s inhabited islands, with about 1,200 residents. In the summer, the population nearly doubles with tourists and those who call the island their second home.
Vinalhaven is located about 15 miles off the coast from Rockland. It takes more than an hour by ferry to reach the island.
The island is policed by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, which is based in Rockland. In recent years the sheriff’s office has struggled to provide robust police coverage for the island.
While both Vinalhaven and neighboring North Haven are supposed to have deputies covering each island, the sheriff’s office has been unable to fill the vacant deputy position on Vinalhaven for more than a year. The deputy for North Haven has been left to cover both islands until the sheriff’s office can find a full-time deputy for Vinalhaven.