Standard-Times staff writer
October 18, 2007 6:00 AM
DARTMOUTH — A folded topographical map perched atop an all-terrain vehicle showed the 4 square miles of woods and marshlands that police searched Wednesday for a missing UMass Dartmouth student.
The student, 22-year-old Neo Babson Maximus, was last seen on Woodberry Lane around 3 a.m. Saturday. Police searched the general area around that location Wednesday without success.
They noted the UMass Dartmouth senior could have since wandered elsewhere.
"We're not even sure he may still be in that area," said Dartmouth police Capt. Scott Brooks, who helped coordinate the search from a quarry off Fisher Road.
"Until we have something that gives us a new direction, we're going to keep looking there," he said.
Capt. Brooks was joined by more than a dozen Dartmouth, Taunton, Westport and UMass Dartmouth police officers who comprised the search-and-rescue team of the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council.
For more than two hours, the officers searched on foot and drove ATVs through the woods looking for any signs of Mr. Maximus, who had legally changed his name from Charles M. Allen Jr.
Rescue personnel patrolled along power lines in the area, but muddy conditions made the search difficult.
Before Wednesday, Dartmouth police had already completed three searches with a bloodhound and other police dogs in areas where Mr. Maximus was last seen. Dartmouth police and a state police helicopter conducted an aerial search Tuesday.
Capt. Brooks said the SEMLEC team will likely be joined by additional police officers today for a more extensive, comprehensive search.
However, finding Mr. Maximus will remain a challenge.
"It will be difficult to find him if he does not want to be found," Capt. Brooks said. "At this point, he's certainly a danger to himself."
Meanwhile, Mr. Maximus's family in Haverhill waited anxiously for any updates.
"Awful, anxious, desperate. You couldn't imagine," said Charles M. Allen Sr., the missing man's father, in describing his family's feelings.
Mr. Allen said his son is an avid tennis player studying psychology at UMass Dartmouth.
"He's an all-around good kid, very intelligent," Mr. Allen said. "He loved his family."
There were scattered sightings of Mr. Maximus on Friday, Capt. Brooks said. He was seen walking in the woods on Russells Mills Road. His backpack was later found nearby on Slocum Road.
Capt. Brooks said Mr. Maximus is also believed to have been a man who tried to break into a Woodberry Lane house early Saturday morning.
Capt. Brooks said the homeowner reported a man climbed his house and tried entering through a second-floor window. The homeowner confronted the individual, who said he was looking for his friend "Mason," whom police identified as a UMass Dartmouth student and friend of Mr. Maximus.
The man then jumped off the house and ran into the woods, Capt. Brooks said.
Dartmouth police have said "medical issues" may have contributed to Mr. Maximus' disappearance. A source familiar with the search said Mr. Maximus was on medications for psychological reasons.
He is described as white, about 5 feet, 11 inches to 6 feet tall, with a slim build, and short, light brown hair and brown eyes, police said.