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Killer of Woodland business owner remains elusive after 11 years

WOODLAND, Maine — Just over eleven years ago, in the remote, snow covered grounds of Smith’s Sawmill and Logging in Woodland, someone stepped through the door of the Thomas Road business and murdered the owner.

It was Feb. 6, 2008, and 56-year-old Darrel Smith was working alone in the sawmill, which was adjacent to his home, when he was shot to death. His wife, Barbara Smith, found the body when she returned home later that day.

It was four days before Smith’s 57th birthday.

There have been few leads in the case and the killer or killers remain elusive, Sgt. Darrin Crane, the Maine State Police lead investigator on the case, said Monday.

“It is an open case and we continue to investigate it,” he said. “We follow up on whatever tips come along. There haven’t been as many as we would like, which is frustrating.”

Investigators have said consistently that Smith had “no enemies,” according to family and friends. A Caribou High School graduate, Darrel Smith farmed for a number of years before opening the sawmill. He was consistently described as “friendly” and “helpful,” police said.

He was killed in the early afternoon, according to court documents, and investigators believe robbery may have been the motive. Smith’s wallet and a safe were taken. It was snowing heavily the day of the murder, obscuring footprints that may have been left behind at the scene, according to police.

Investigators have not released many details about the crime or said whether there were signs of a struggle. They have recovered the safe and the weapon used to kill Smith but would not comment on what kind of gun it was or where the items were found.

Since Smith had no signs advertising his small sawmill and word of mouth was used to secure business, police believe his killer or killers had to be familiar with Smith’s Sawmill and Logging. From the road, the property looks like a private residence. Police believe the perpetrator or perpetrators also knew he was running a cash-only business and would have money on hand, because he did not accept credit or debit cards at his facility.

Investigators have looked at family members and those close to the victim and eliminated them as suspects.

Crane said that police continue to keep the case in the public’s eye through the State Police Facebook page.

Although she was unavailable for comment this time, Barbara Smith has said in numerous interviews that it has been difficult to bear each passing year without her husband, and also to think of the murderer still walking free. She described Smith as a “kind, easy going and thoughtful man,” who loved to play cards, spend time at his camp on Square Lake and tease people. She said that they never had an argument during their 23 year marriage.

Barbara Smith has attended Maine Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims ceremonies, which have been held in Augusta, to honor her husband.

Members of the public who have any information about the crime are encouraged to call the Maine State Police at 800-924-2261 or Crime Stoppers at 800-638-TIPS.

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