INDIAN ISLAND – There is a nearly five-decade-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of an Indian Island boy that isn’t a mystery for one former police chief.
“How does a murder victim talk, especially when nobody knows he was murdered?” said Victor Kraft, who served as police chief for Penobscot Nation Police Department back in the early 1990s. “It just haunted me. It still does.”
Kraft said he was introduced to the story of 10-year-old Floyd Neptune on his first day on the job. That day he was dispatched to the home of Ronald “Rodney” Francis, who was yelling about the drowning of Neptune.
“While I was running up, he was yelling out the window that a subject should have drowned [Officer] Daigle, instead of drowning Floyd Neptune,” Kraft recalled.
Daigle was with Kraft on the call. After befriending Francis, Kraft says he learned the fate of the Neptune, who was last seen alive on Oct. 17, 1971.
“He was murdered that day in 1971,” Kraft said.
Reports at the time said Neptune told his friends that he was going to see Francis to collect money for a hunting knife he’d previously sold him. The boy, who called Francis his uncle, was known to hang out with him and other adults.
“When he asked for the money, Rodney was intoxicated at the time and started kidding the kid,” Kraft said. “The kid, who had a mouth like a drunken sailor, started cursing out Rodney which caused the perpetrator to get very, very angry … He took the kid and started placing his head in the river underwater.”
Kraft recalled that Francis didn’t believe that the man meant to kill the boy, but his actions went too far and he died.
After the boy was reported missing, an extensive search was done with crews from several agencies, Maine State Police, Old Town Police Department, Warden Service and others helping out using helicopters and scuba divers to search the land and the river to no avail.
What is believed to be the boy’s body surfaced about a year later caught in the grates of the nearby dam. The age and clothing size were the same as Neptune, and his dentist matched fillings in the skull to his dental records.
“It was a terrible, terrible case” for all involved, Kraft said. “It all ended in 1975 when that subject basically died.”
When the boy disappeared, Francis never reported what he knew to investigators. He has since died. Kraft said the 1970s were a different time and folks on Indian Island often didn’t trust police investigators and would stick together, keeping quiet unless asked.
He said the two Penobscot County Sheriff’s detectives who worked the case did a brilliant job collecting evidence and tried to get an indictment, but never had enough physical evidence. Plus, they didn’t have the eye-witness account of Francis.
“The case became different when he admitted what he saw to me,” Kraft said. “By then it was 1992 and there was actually nobody to prosecute. The person was already deceased.”
If the man had been alive, Kraft said, he would have prosecuted him.
Kraft said most if not all of Neptune’s immediately family also are deceased.
A woman contacted the station to say Neptune was her first cousin, who everyone called “Floydie,” and that he was wise for his age.
“As a family member, we have never been told what has happened, he has not been found or the circumstances of his disappearance have never been known,” she said. “I am also stunned at the fact that family has not been notified of any of this.”
Kraft said he approached WVII/WFVX specifically so the information would be released.
“This has troubled me for years,” he said.