By Paul Tennant
---- — METHUEN — Police are investigating the death of an unidentified 66-year-old man in the Spicket River.
A man who was walking along the Spicket, which winds through Methuen and Lawrence before emptying into the Merrimack River, discovered the body at 3:45 p.m. yesterday, according to State Police Capt. Kristopher McCarthy. The body was in 7 feet of water, McCarthy said.
“There does not appear to be any foul play,” McCarthy said. He added investigators think the man “possibly” took his own life. Police did not find a suicide note near the body, he said.
He mentioned that a few “articles” were found near the river bank, but he did not elaborate. Police did not identify the man pending notification of his next of kin.
The body was recovered from the river by members of the State Police Dive Team. A hearse, preceded by a Methuen police cruiser with its lights flashing, arrived at the scene at 6:40 p.m. The State Medical Examiner’s Office will perform an autopsy, McCarthy said.
Investigators do not think the body was in the water for more than a few hours, he said.
The drowning happened near the end of Pine Street, above the falls and before the river passes through Methuen Square. The Methuen Rail Trail, which extends 2.4 miles from the Manchester Street park in Lawrence to Hampshire Road in Salem, N.H. line, was blocked off by yellow crime scene tape just before the trail crosses the Spicket River.
The parking lot of the International Mills building, which houses several businesses, was also cordoned off with yellow tape. The Methuen Police Mobile Command Unit, a large trailer that’s deployed at crime scenes and other emergencies, was stationed in the parking lot.
Chief Joseph Solomon was among the officers at the scene.
Walkers and cyclists were surprised when their journeys abruptly ended just before the bridge that takes the trail over the Spicket.
Rebecca Petrillo, of 42 Pine St., frequently takes her little Shih Tzu, Rowynna, for walks along the rail trail. When they walked along the trail between 11 a.m. and noon, there was no sign of any problem, she said.
David Elliott, of Ames Street, Lawrence, was biking along the trail with his son, Francisco Elliott. They were disappointed when their ride came to a sudden end.
“We discovered this (the rail trail) about a week ago,” David Elliott said.
Linda Stehm, of Grove Street, was walking the trail with Duke, her well-behaved beagle. They walk the trail often and the other people who use the trail are very friendly, she said.
“They’ll ask, ‘how are you doing?’” she said.