Four days after the mysterious death of a 28-year-old man on Vinalhaven, friends and relatives are getting impatient with police who have released few details on the case.
As of Thursday morning, investigators won’t say how the man died or provide any details on the circumstances that led to the man’s death.
Roger Feltis, 28, died Sunday night after 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 has left many who knew Feltis puzzled. A march remembering Feltis and demanding police action is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday on Vinalhaven. Marches also are planned for noon Friday and 6 p.m. Sunday in Rockland.
“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 Sunday night through Tuesday conducting interviews and collecting evidence. On Wednesday, they returned to the mainland to process evidence and review autopsy results, according to Maine Department of Public Safety spokesperson Stephen McCausland.
As of Wednesday, 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.”
An update on the investigation is slated to be released late Thursday afternoon, McCausland said.
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 offtime, he enjoyed competing in lobster boat races.
But his skillset 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, his girlfriend Jennie Candage said.
“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 Vinlhaven 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.