Leslie Spellman: Cold Case Murder at Acadia National Park

NOTE: This episode was updated and re-released in 2022. The links and player above reflect the updated release of Leslie Spellman’s story.

Millions of people flock to Acadia National Park every year. Even in a pandemic, visitors are pouring into the gorgeous landscape that truly has it all, from it’s 26 mountain peaks to deep-water ponds, the rocky Maine coastline and thick pine forests, and that salty Downeast air that could never be captured by a Yankee Candle scent.

But of those millions of people seeking beauty, adventure, or solitude with a trip to Acadia, some never return home.

Seventy-six people have died in Acadia National Park since it was officially labeled a national park in the early 1900s. Many of them accidental, tragic falls to their fate after attempting challenging hikes. The author of the book Death in Acadia, Randi Minetor, said she writes books about national park deaths to help people be more aware of what they need to know, to help them stay alive on their adventurous trips to national parks like Glacier, Zion, and of course, Acadia. But her research and teachings shared inside her book couldn’t have prepared the three visitors whose trips to Acadia ended in murder.

One of those murders is still unsolved, over 43 years later. This is the case of Leslie Spellman and her dog, Taylor.

Leslie was just 27-years old when she set off to Bar Harbor in the summer of 1977, hitchhiking from Vermont with her scruffy mutt Taylor by her side. Her beaten body would be found just a day after she left for her adventure, along the walking trail at Asticou Gardens in Northeast Harbor — 50 feet outside the boundaries of Acadia National Park. Her dog was found relatively unharmed less than a mile away. To this day, over 40 years later, Leslie’s family is still searching for answers — Who took the life of their sweet sister and daughter?

Hit play to hear the full story of a cold case that’s gone without answers for over four decades. I’ll walk you through what we know about Leslie’s last days alive, the witnesses that saw her and her pup in town the night before the murder, and which prominent serial killer may or may not have ties to the case.