Otis Napolian Joseph LaBree

Otis Napolian Joseph LaBree

Old Town, Penobscot County, Maine, USA
Death 1 Jul 2003 (aged 88)
Bangor, Penobscot County, Maine, USA
Burial Houlton, Aroostook County, Maine, USA
Plot Catholic Section 18:10
Memorial ID 67612884 · View Source
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Legendary and well respected Law Enforcer Otis Napoleon LaBree Jr began his long career as a Maine Law Enforcer when he joined the Old Town Police, Maine Police department as a Foot Patrol office. In 1942 He was accepted as a Officer with the Maine State Police stationed in Aroostook Co, Maine. He spoke both English and French and was well respected for his fairness in the area. He became the first Detective in the Maine State Police and went on to Solve 40 murders and multitudes of other crimes in his long career. Most famous was the murders of Cyrus Everett and Donna Mauch. He was by this time Chief of Police in Old Town, Maine but returned to Aroostook County and after a lengthy investigation told them the murderer was Phil Adams. At the time there was not enough physical evidence to bring him to trial. 20 years later (from artical below People mag) both covered by People Magazine CBS News, and 60 Minutes.
"The hypothesis was neat—though later discredited by police—but didn't satisfy the town's craving for intrigue. There were other rumors of a cover-up by powerful figures. The story spread that two wealthy landowners, one of them a former Republican Majority Leader in the Maine Senate, had struck and killed Cyrus Everett while driving home drunk, then murdered Donna Mauch either because she had been with them in the car when it happened or because she found out about it later and began blackmailing them. Both versions were pure fabrication, but they did provoke an official reaction. State and local authorities, prodded by the Maine Attorney General's office, simply tried to close the book on the Everett case, agreeing that the boy's death had been nothing more than bad luck.

Fort Fairfield still would have none of it. Angrily confronting the town council, 20 local residents demanded that the town hire a private investigator. Enter Otis LaBree, a retired state police detective who had once arrested Phil Adams as a juvenile for sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy. His investigation prompted a new autopsy—the first had been inconclusive—which established, finally, that Everett had been killed by a blow to the head. Phil Adams was back on the hook; LaBree concluded in his report that Adams was the primary suspect. "But the state police detective who took over the investigation died," LaBree says today, "and they never really worked the case. They just plain goofed it up."
Adams confessed to both murders while in Jail serving time for an additional murder conviction.
In 1963, while chief of police, in Old Town, Maine he played a key roll in securing President John F. Kennedy's trip to Maine.
Otis was a Nationally know Hand writing, Finger Print, Firearms and Ballistic expert.
1969 President and life member of the Harvard Association in Police Science.
1968 he started LaBree Associates, a Private Investigation company that was take over by the family when he became Sheriff in 1970
Former Maine criminal justice academy chairman of the board of trustees.
Charter member of the international and Law enforcement Association
Sheriff of Penobscot Co, Maine 1970-1982, revolutionary in the changes of prisoners and their conditions. Started the first work release program in Maine.
He was honored in 1999 as Maine State Legendary Trooper of the year and the New Barracks of Troop F in Houlton, Maine were named in his Honor.

Quote from Attorney General of Maine
"Otis LaBree was another colorful predecessor whose legacy is memorable. A big red-headed, later white-haired, guy, fully bilingual, a Jack-of-All-Trades—photographer, polygrapher, self-taught handwriting examiner, finger printer, investigator, story teller, Otis was a witness with finesse, a detective who patrolled all over the County and rural Maine. Sometimes he would talk a person to death until the person cooperated. Then he would charm the jurors on the stand until they too were like putty in his hands.

He avoided arrests in all but the most violent crimes, because back then the arresting officer had to feed and house the prisoner until they got him to the jail many many miles away.

And while he was colorful, like Detectives Marks and Shepard before him, Otis LaBree valued his reputation in the community. He guarded his integrity and his honor like a hawk."

Article from The Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine
Longtime law enforcer Otis LaBree dead at 88
Published Jul 04, 2003 12:00 am | Last updated Sep 02, 2009 5:47 am
BANGOR (AP) - Otis LaBree, a legendary law enforcer who solved more than three dozen murders as the first Maine State Police detective and went on to serve 10 years as Penobscot County sheriff, has died at 88.

LaBree died Tuesday in Bangor of old age, his son, Wayne, said Wednesday.

He began his career in Old Town, brawling with belligerent drunks while patrolling its rough and tumble streets as a rookie cop in the 1930s.

"They dressed me up in a fancy uniform, and stuffed newspapers in my hat because it was too big," LaBree recalled a few years ago. "I looked like General Custer. If I fell down, I wouldn't have been able to get up."

Working 10-hour days for 25 cents an hour, LaBree admitted that he "got the hell kicked out of" him more than once as he cut his teeth in the mill town to which he eventually would return as chief.

He joined the Maine State Police in 1940 and found himself patrolling the roads from Fort Kent to Limestone.

"I had a motorcycle and a car with no lights, but the words "State Police' written on it," he recalled. In 1954, he became the first detective for the state police, and over the next eight years solved 38 murders.

He retired from the Maine State Police in 1962 and returned to his hometown of Old Town as chief of police.

"Otis and I grew up in the same neighborhood," said Eugene Beaulieu, former U.S. magistrate judge. "I think the people of Old Town have always taken a great deal of pride in Otis. Everyone has heard of him."

In the 1970s, during his tenure as Penobscot County sheriff, his bickering with public officials captured headlines and enhanced his reputation as one not likely to back down from a fight.

"He had quite a healthy ego, which made him very good at his job," said Carl "Bucky" Buchanan, who worked as a state police detective with LaBree.

LaBree is credited with transforming the Penobscot County Jail from a fledgling facility that still threw misbehaving prisoners into a "dog hole" into a jail that became a model for others throughout the state.

LaBree, whose wife, Beatrice, predeceased him, is survived by three children. A celebration of his life will be held Sunday afternoon along the Bangor waterfront on the cruise ship Roxy Lee.

Otis LaBree was also a well known and respected Referee in Boxing, Basketball, and an Baseball Umpire.
He early on wrote a sports column for the Old Time Times, in Old Town Maine.

Source listing;
People Magazine article

Sun Journal Article

Maine Attorney General

Trooper of the year, barracks name in honor

Family Members


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  • Created by: Michele
  • Added: 29 Mar 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 67612884
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Otis Napolian Joseph LaBree (25 Jan 1915–1 Jul 2003), Find A Grave Memorial no. 67612884, citing Saint Marys Cemetery, Houlton, Aroostook County, Maine, USA ; Maintained by Michele (contributor 47380523) .