Dad Charged With Murder 38 Years After Infant Son’s Death

A Maine man is charged with his infant son's murder, 38 years after it allegedly happened. 

Burton "Ben" Hagar entered a not guilty plea on the murder charge in Cumberland County Superior Court Wednesday. 

The death of his son, Nathan, was originally classified as sudden infant death syndrome, but police say they quietly re-opened the case in 1991. 

Nathan was found unresponsive in the family's Brunswick apartment and died at a nearby hospital on May 9, 1979. 

"There's never an expiration date on our efforts to bring people to justice," said Assistant Attorney General Megan Elam. "New evidence was gathered in the last year and a half... that's enabled us to bring these charges." 

Elam declined to describe that new evidence, and said it will "speak for itself" at a later date. 

Hagar's attorney said he doesn't know what kind of evidence prosecutors plan to present. 

"I don't know what exists from 1979, and I don't know why it has been brought up," said Vern Paradie. "I just know that it's been independently reviewed by a medical examiner." 

Paradie said the charge has been "tough" for his client, who is having to re-live the death of his son. Paradie said Hagar has no criminal record prior to 1979, and does not believe he is a risk to the community. 

On Wednesday, a judge ordered Hagar held without bail. Prosecutors have requested a harnish hearing, but a court date has not yet been set. 

Maine State Police spokesman Steve McCausland called this case the "oldest unsolved homicide case State Police have resolved." 

The Chief of the State Police credited a new investigative unit with bringing the murder charge in Hagar's case. A new Unsolved Homicide Unit was fully funded in February of 2016, which gave State Police additional resources to investigate cold cases. 

"There will be other success stories as their work continues," said Colonel Robert Williams.

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