HANCOCK, Maine — Police are looking for a local man indicted last week on charges stemming from two alleged assaults on a 5-year-old boy, according to officials.
Josef F. Messer, 34, of Hancock was indicted June 9 by the Hancock County grand jury on two counts of assault on a child less than 6 years old, two counts of reckless conduct, one count of aggravated assault and one count of unlawful furnishing of scheduled drugs.
According to Matthew Foster, district attorney for Hancock County, the various assault and reckless conduct charges all stem from the same two alleged incidents involving the young boy, which occurred two days apart in April. The furnishing drugs charge stems from a separate incident in March that did not directly involve the boy, he said.
Foster said that on April 20, Messer allegedly wrapped the boy in a blanket, taped the blanket down around his face to leave his face exposed, and used a belt or bungee cord to secure his torso and arms and a power cord to secure his feet and legs, causing injuries to the child as he did so.
Two days later, Messer allegedly injured the boy again as he held him in a tub of cold water until his core temperature was reduced to 94 degrees Fahrenheit, the prosecutor said. After holding the boy in the cold water, Messer then allegedly swung him around by his ankles, the district attorney added.
Foster declined to comment on the severity of the boy’s resulting injuries.
The furnishing incident occurred on March 30, when Messer is accused of providing the boy’s mother with the prescription opioid drug Suboxone, Foster said.
Foster said Maine State Police attempted to locate and arrest Messer on June 9, soon after he was indicted and a warrant was issued, but could not find him. They have been on the lookout for Messer since then, he added.
“We are extremely interested in Mr. Messer’s whereabouts so that he can be brought to court to answer these serious allegations as soon as possible, and before he has the opportunity to endanger other children,” Foster said Tuesday in an emailed statement.
He declined to reveal additional details about the case.
Lt. Roderick Charette of Maine State Police Troop J in Ellsworth said Wednesday morning that the case is being investigated by the department’s northern Major Crimes Unit. He added that Troop J is involved in trying to determine where Messer might be.
“We are looking for him,” Charette said.
He said anyone with information about Messer’s location should call Maine State Police at 973-3700.
Additional information about the case was unavailable Wednesday morning. A clerk at Hancock County Unified Criminal Court in Ellsworth said the case file in the matter has been sealed and is unavailable for public viewing.