2016-02-16 / Front Page

Tragic end for Saco man with mental illness

58-year-old found dead after apparently wandering away from home
By LIZ GOTTHELF
Staff Writer


Police say the body of Gary Googoo of Saco was found by train tracks in Biddeford Monday after the 58-year-old walked away from the foster care home where he resided early Monday morning. 
SUBMITTED PHOTO Police say the body of Gary Googoo of Saco was found by train tracks in Biddeford Monday after the 58-year-old walked away from the foster care home where he resided early Monday morning. SUBMITTED PHOTO BIDDEFORD — It was unlike Gary Googoo to wander off alone. His mental illness required him to have someone with him whenever he took a walk, or he would be unable to find his way home.

But early Monday morning, he apparently left home by himself. And it ended up costing him his life.

Googoo, 58, 15 Winter St., Saco, was found dead by the train tracks near the South Street overpass and Brighten Avenue in Biddeford just before noon Monday, according to Biddeford Deputy Police Chief JoAnne Fiske.

Saco Acting Deputy Police Chief Corey Huntress said a train conductor found Googoo’s body and called police. A cause of death has not been determined.

Googoo had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to Saco police. He lived with the McManus family in Saco in an adult foster care arrangement through the social service agency Living Innovations.

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Gary, who by all accounts was a good person,” said Living Innovations CEO Neal Ouellett in an email. “Our deepest condolences are being expressed to his family and the caregivers in whose home he lived.”

A sister of Googoo declined to comment, but his caregivers remembered him fondly on Monday.

Sitting at her dining room table Monday afternoon, Rose McManus described Googoo as a “very, very happy,” calm, peaceful person. She said he enjoyed watching science fiction and Western shows on television (especially “Bonanza”), and going to dances. He dressed up as the Frankenstein monster for Halloween.

He was like a member of their family, said McManus, and acclimated well to the household when he moved in more than four years ago. He was also close to his biological family, and enjoyed spending holidays with them, she said.

“You couldn’t ask for an easier going guy,” said Steve McManus. “He was smiling all the time.”

Rose and Steve McManus said Googoo enjoyed walking around the neighborhood or at the beach. Someone always walked with him, because if he was a few blocks away from home, he wouldn’t have been able to find his way back alone. He was never left alone, and went to an adult day program during the week.

Rose McManus said Googoo hadn’t been feeling well in recent weeks, and he had grown increasingly anxious. His doctor and counselor were made aware of his change in behavior.

On Monday morning, the McManuses noticed the door of Googoo’s bedroom was open. They expected him to be in his favorite chair in the living room, waiting for the rest of the household to wake up. When he wasn’t in the living room – or anywhere in the house – they notified the police.

Police posted to social media and contacted the news media to get the word out that Googoo was missing. But it was too late.

Around noon, a body was found near the railroad tracks in Biddeford. A few hours later, police confirmed it was Googoo.

Authorities are investigating the case, but why Googoo decided to wander off by himself may never be known.

“I honestly think he didn’t have a direction,” Rose McManus said. “He just wanted to walk.”

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or egotthelf@journaltribune.com.

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