Murder suspect makes first court appearance

By Jennifer Osborn and Samuel Shepherd

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ELLSWORTH — A 19-year-old Bar Harbor woman was found dead Saturday, and the man accused of her murder made his first court appearance Wednesday.

Mikaela Conley was found dead near the intersection of Route 3 and West Street Saturday in Bar Harbor, Maine State Police spokesman Steve McCausland reported.

On Monday, the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit arrested Jalique Keene, 21, of Bar Harbor on a charge of murder in connection with Conley’s death.

On Wednesday, Keene, clad in a red jail jumpsuit, made an initial appearance in Hancock County Superior Court. The proceeding lasted less than 60 seconds.

“We’re asking that he be held without bail,” Assistant Attorney General John Alsop told Justice Bruce Mallonee. The lead investigator, Detective Tom Pickering, sat with Alsop.

Ellsworth attorney Jeff Toothaker, who represented Keene during Wednesday’s proceeding, along with attorney Dawn Corbett, agreed.

“If I want one [a bail hearing], I can motion for it,” Toothaker said.

Toothaker explained that he can request a bail hearing to see if the state has sufficient facts to justify the charge.

In addition to three court security officers, several Hancock County Sheriff’s deputies flanked the courtroom.

Chief Deputy Pat Kane and Lt. Corey Bagley each took a corner. Lt. Tim Cote sat behind Keene.

Deputies Brian Archer and Zach Allen stood at the main courtroom entrance.

Detective Stephen McFarland, Detective Frank Jennings, Jail Administrator Timothy Richardson and jail Lt. Frank Shepard were seated in the spectators’ benches.

After the proceeding, Keene was escorted by corrections officials and police back to the jail, where he has been held since Monday.

Scant information is available about the case. Affidavits for arrest and search warrants have been sealed.

When McCausland announced Keene’s arrest, the spokesman added, “The cause of death is not being released at this time.”

Police found Conley’s body on Saturday on a steep wooded hillside at the intersection of West Street and Eden Street, where she reportedly was last seen on Friday.

An extensive search involving multiple law enforcement agencies took place Saturday. Conley’s body was found around noon Saturday by a state police dog, McCausland said.

The intersection of Route 3 and West Street was closed to traffic midday Saturday. The Bar Harbor Police and Fire Departments, the Maine Warden Service and the Maine Marine Patrol assisted state police detectives throughout the day.

An autopsy began Sunday at the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta, according to McCausland.

Details of the relationship between Keene and Conley are not known at this time. The two are friends on Facebook and attended Mount Desert Island High School at the same time.

Keene was a football player at MDIHS and played at West Virginia State University.

Keene has a prior, nonviolent criminal record. Two years ago, Keene was arrested on a charge of furnishing alcohol to minors at post-prom party at a camp on Donnell Pond in Franklin.

Conley’s father was found dead by a whale watch boat in Frenchman Bay in 2003 after going missing while hiking around Breakneck Road, according to Islander archives. Keene’s father died in October 2016.

Barb Neilly, principal at Conners Emerson, said the school has been offering support to children affected due to the proximity of the school to the discovery site and the interconnected small town community.

“Unfortunately, this isn’t our first go-around with tragedy, so we have a well-seasoned staff,” she said.

Neilly said in a Sunday email to parents that school would carry on normally and that parents may contact the school directly if their child is having a difficult time returning to school.

Conley’s family owns 2 Cats Restaurant in Bar Harbor.

Matt Hochman, a town councilor and owner of the nearby Trailhead Café, said the town was in “shock” after Saturday’s discovery. While rumors were swirling on social media, Hochman stepped in to try to limit the spread of misinformation and rumors.

“We’re a very tight-knit community, and when something like this happens, there’s a tendency to jump to conclusions and spread everything you hear,” Hochman said Tuesday. “It was difficult enough for [the family] without having to see a lot of speculation.”

Mount Desert and Bar Harbor Police Chief Jim Willis expressed condolences to the family and thanks to community members who helped throughout last weekend.

“It’s all about the family and our hearts go out to them,” Willis said. “A lot of people around here worked really hard, and none of them hesitated.”

The family posted a message of thanks for the community’s support on the 2 Cats Facebook page Monday.

Mourners have posted messages of support since, including remembrances of Conley as a young child.

“I remember her as a little dark-haired girl with sweet freckles beneath her dancing eyes, wearing her favorite jean jacket, striped dress and sneakers at Conners Emerson,” one comment read. “During her time at the bakery next door, she was my favorite part of coming in the door. She told me how much she loved reading and that she wished people her age would put down their phones more often. When she stopped working at the bakery, I missed her enough I stopped stopping by.”

Officials are asking anyone who might have information about the case to call State Police in Bangor at 973-3700.

A celebration of life for Conley is planned at 4 p.m. on June 9 at 2 Cats.



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