A traffic stop in Maine last week resulted in a Massachusetts man’s suicide and a startling discovery — a woman’s body in his trunk.
Authorities say the driver, identified as Gyrth Rutan, 34, of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, was pulled over around around 4:45 p.m. Thursday on Timberwood Drive in Gardiner, Maine.
State police detectives assigned to the Worcester County District Attorney’s office are investigating the death of the woman whose body was found in the trunk of his car. Her identity has not been released by authorities.
Update (4:45 p.m.): Late Monday afternoon, the Worcester County District Attorney’s office identified the woman as 28-year-old Maddilyn Burgess in a release, calling her “the apparent victim of a murder.” Authorities said police “discovered evidence of a crime scene” at Rutan’s Sturbridge apartment on Fairview Park Road during a search Friday. The state medical examiner’s office in Maine has determined Burgess died of “blunt force injuries,” according to the release. The DA’s office said the investigation by authorities in Massachusetts and Maine remains ongoing.
Here’s what we know about the incident and the investigations being conducted in Maine and Massachusetts.
What authorities are saying
It began on Thursday when Maine State Police received a report of an erratic driver on Interstate 295. A short while later, police said, a trooper pulled over a driver in Gardiner.
“The operator, a man, immediately got of the vehicle and shot himself resulting in his death,” police said. “While conducting the investigation a body was located in the trunk.”
Both bodies were transported to the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta for autopsies where it was determined that the driver died from a shotgun blast to the head.
Police said at the time they did not believe there was an ongoing threat to the public.
The driver was identified a day later as Rutan.
According to the Worcester DA’s office, the woman was from Massachusetts.
Steve McCausland, a spokesman for state police, told the Associated Press it was unclear why the 34-year-old drove to Maine but said the Sturbridge man appeared to have family in the state.
According to the Kennebec Journal, authorities do not believe the woman died in Maine. A public records search conducted for Rutan in Maine and Massachusetts did not reveal a criminal record in either state.
What acquaintances are saying
Neighbors of Rutan told NECN police were going in and out of the man’s Sturbridge home on Friday and expressed surprise at the circumstances of his death.
“Surprised and appalled and all mixed up you know, living so close to this person and not knowing anything really about him,” one woman told the station.
Another neighbor, Sarah Fulginiti, told Worcester’s Telegram and Gazette she sometimes saw Rutan outside with the same woman “over a couple years” and described the man as quiet.
According to the Bangor Daily News, Rutan was in the Bangor area the week before his death visiting a friend.
“He wasn’t looking too great,” the friend told the newspaper. “He was talking about troubles he was having with his finances, with work, with his most recent girlfriend. He came up for a few days and said he wanted to go camping but he didn’t end up staying.”
The Sturbridge man didn’t talk about harming himself or anyone else, according to the Daily News, but the friend, who asked not to be identified by the publication, said his mood was markedly different from the previous time he visited in December.
“He’d recently been accepted into the union,” the friend said of the December visit. “He was pretty proud of that. He was making good money and working a lot of overtime installing power lines and running heavy equipment.”
A Facebook page for Rutan lists his hometown as Dedham, Maine, and says he previously worked for the Bangor Parks and Recreation Department and attended high school in Hermon and Brewer.
The director of the Bangor Department of Parks and Recreation told the Daily News Rutan worked as a seasonal employee from 2010 to 2014 before he decided to leave the job.
The friend told the newspaper that Rutan had an 11-year-old daughter, who he was raising as a single father, and moved to Massachusetts a couple of years ago to be closer to family.
“His whole life was his daughter,” the friend said. “He was a really good dad. He’d take her on adventures and try new things. Its pretty sad that she’ll never see him again.”
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.