After 25 years, family, police still seek clues in unsolved Portland homicide

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PORTLAND — Norway resident Kyle Sampson visited 64 Pine St. in the West End for the first time Monday afternoon.

It was not a social visit. He wants to know who killed his father in the block between Brackett and West streets 25 years ago.

“This is a murder, it took someone’s life. It took something from me I will never be able to have,” Sampson said after posting fliers with a photo of Scott Sampson and a plea for anyone with information to call city police.

Friday, Nov. 13, is the 25th anniversary of the death of Scott Sampson, who was 26 when police found his body outside Pine Street Variety (now Aurora Provisions) around 2 a.m.

Sampson was declared dead at the scene. Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch on Nov. 6 said the case is considered a homicide, although there was initial speculation it was a suicide. There were no witnesses, according to investigators.

“This was one of those cases that was frustrating from the beginning,” Malloch said. “There’s a lot of things we look to now we didn’t have then.”

Jim Daniels, who retired from the Police Department in 1998, was the primary detective in the case. He said the investigation was hampered by a lack of people who came forward with information.

“It was late at night, there were not a lot of people around,” Daniels said.

Police have not released many details, including how Sampson died. His family, including his sister, Sandra Hill, said he was stabbed and left to die.

“It is an absolutely mortifying event,” Hill said Nov. 7. “Somebody has not been pinned with this murder. Why?”

Kyle Sampson, now 28, was about 2 when his father was killed. His older brother, Shawn, who now lives in Toronto, was 5. Both have worked to keep the investigation in the public eye, ensuring the case was placed on the police website detailing 12 open homicide cases dating to 1985.

Sampson’s life had not always been easy, both his sister and his friend, Jim Levesque, recalled. Warm-hearted and mischievous, Hill said he would hitch hike from Sanford to Van Buren, north of Orono, to see his children. He once climbed a utility pole to illegally connect cable TV to Hill’s home.

“And then he sat there on the sofa, smiling and watching TV,” she said. “He was a family man, he would walk in and make you laugh and smile. He was one of the kindest people and would do anything for anyone.”

Scott Sampson also drank, which led to legal troubles, including arrests for assaults and disorderly conduct. In the months before his death, he had come to Portland for treatment and to try to straighten out his life.

“He was in a group home and trying to get his ducks in order,” Hill said. “I was his support person. I went in for the family meetings, he had been in treatment, he was trying to be clean.”

Jim Levesque, a longtime friend, agreed with Hill about Sampson’s warmth and love of family.

“He loved his children, dearly,” he said. “But I’ve never known alcohol to make someone a better person.”

The last night he was seen alive, Sampson was living on Falmouth Street and had an argument with his then-girlfriend, Daniels said. He left home on his bicycle and ended up on Pine Street. The bicycle was found close to Sampson’s body.

“It was unusual that he was on a bicycle, but not unheard of at that time of year,” Daniels said.

Hill and Daniels stayed in touch, but he had little to report on the case over the years.

“That was very difficult; you wanted to have something to tell them and there wasn’t anything there. There was just nothing,” Daniels said.

Hill said her brother’s homicide devastated their mother, who died in 2011. For Kyle, his father’s death left an unfillable hole, no matter how hard his mother, Lisa Maheux, worked to raise him and his brother.

“There were a lot of hard things, like going over to a friends house and seeing things they got to do with their father that I didn’t,” Kyle said.

Malloch said the nature of the case makes public input critical if it is to be solved. While detectives review the unsolved cases, and have looked for clues by backtracking through Sampson’s day before his death, new information is needed.

“Somebody knows who did it,” Malloch said. He added city police will continue to investigate, although the case will not be forwarded to the state cold case unit set up by Attorney General Janet Mills.

Anyone with information about the Sampson case or other unsolved homicides is asked to call police at 874-8533. The department also accepts anonymous  tips online at or texted to 274637, using the keyword “GOTCHA.”

“Anonymous calls go a long way,” Kyle Sampson said. “You don’t have to show your face to help out.”

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Scott Sampson, who was killed in Portland on Nov. 13, 1990, in Portland, celebrates the birthday of his son, Shawn, in 1988. Sampson’s homicide remains unsolved.

Kyle Sampson visits Pine Street in Portland on Monday, Nov. 9, to post fliers seeking information about the unsolved Nov. 13, 1990, homicide of his father, Scott Sampson.

Sandra Hill, at her Springvale home on Nov. 7 with photos of her brother, Scott Sampson, who was killed in Portland on Nov. 13, 1990: “It is an absolutely mortifying event, somebody has not been pinned with this murder. Why?”

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.