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Maine State Police search for boyfriend of activist killed in hit-and-run crash in Acadia National Park

Maine authorities are investigating the hit-and-run death of Nikole A. Mokeme, killed during a retreat for Black youths and adults she organized at Acadia National Park. (Gregory Rec/The Portland Press Herald)Gregory Rec/The Portland Press Herald

Maine State Police on Thursday continued to investigate the tragic death of a South Portland activist who was killed last weekend in a hit-and-run crash in Acadia National Park. Police said they are still searching for the woman’s boyfriend and a black BMV registered to his name.

Nicole A. Mokeme, 35, was attending the Black Excellence Retreat at the Schoodic Institute, an event she had helped organize, when she was fatally injured on the institute’s campus sometime late Saturday or early Sunday, authorities said.

Investigators earlier this week asked for the public’s help in the search for a 2016 BMW X3 registered to Mokeme’s boyfriend, 35-year-old Raymond Lester. Authorities said the black SUV may have sustained front-end or undercarriage damage.

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“Detectives with the MSP’s Major Crimes Unit North have been working on this case non-stop to find the person responsible for the death of Nicole Mokeme who was killed in a hit and run at Acadia National Park in Winter Harbor,” said State Police spokeswoman Shannon Moss in a statement Thursday.

“Law enforcement continues to search for Ray Lester and his vehicle,” she added.

Lester has not been charged in connection with the crash, police said Thursday.

Moss did not release any additional information on the status of the case noting that, “Details of this case or any investigation are not revealed until the appropriate time and to the appropriate people as to not compromise the integrity of the investigation.”

A victim advocate from the state Attorney General’s Office has been in daily contact with Mokeme’s parents since her death, Moss said. The victim advocate has also reached out to her brother, Ibekendu Mokeme, she added.

A funeral service for Mokeme has been scheduled for July 1 at 12 p.m. at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Portland.

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Mokeme was well-known in her community for sharing her passions for wellness and nature with Black and Indigenous youth. In 2014, she created the Rise and Shine Youth Retreat program, which offers self-development getaways for children of color. She opened a wellness retreat center and cooperative living-space four years ago on a 135-acre farm in Bowdoin, Maine.

Mokeme helped organize the Black Excellence Retreat that was underway at the Schoodic Institute when she was killed. The retreat, which was held June 14-20, was intended as a getaway for Black Mainers to celebrate “Juneteenth, liberation and resilience,” according to an Instagram post promoting the event.

Previous Globe material was used in this report.



Deanna Pan can be reached at deanna.pan@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @DDpan. John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.