Woman’s Body Found In Unity
N.H. Officials Say It May Be Missing Charlestown Resident
Unity — The body of an adult female was recovered yesterday in a wooded area in Unity and officials said they think it could be that of missing Charlestown woman Kelly Robarge.
Robarge, a 42-year-old mother of two, disappeared June 27 and has not been seen since. Early in the investigation, New Hampshire’s senior assistant attorney general, Susan Morrell, feared Robarge had suffered serious physical harm or death.
Searchers, aided by several canine units, found the body in a thick wooded area 300 yards from Britton Road, two miles from West Unity Road. Authorities set up yesterday at the entrance of what had the appearance of an old logging road. Tall pines and other firs lined the grassy road that led to a pair of makeshift stone campfire pits. Crumpled beer cans littered the camping sites.
The body has not yet been identified. An autopsy is scheduled for today.
“There are a lot of circumstances we discovered during our investigation that we are not releasing which lead us to believe it is Kelly Robarge,” Morrell said in an interview last night.
Officials are not releasing information on the condition of the body, but Morrell said the New Hampshire Medical Examiner’s Office will need to use dental records to determine if the body is that of Robarge.
The woman’s family has been notified, Morrell said. Robarge’s mother, Carol Hewitt, could not be reached last night and Tracy Williams, one of Robarge’s best friends, declined to comment.
In the hours leading up to her disappearance, Robarge was babysitting her 1-year-old grandson, Richard, in her home on Happy Acres Road in Charlestown. Earlier that morning, Robarge had filed for divorce from her husband, 43-year-old James Robarge, citing irreconcilable differences, according to court documents.
Morrell has called Robarge’s disappearance “suspicious.” James Robarge has been a person of interest since early in the investigation, she said.
“He continues to be a person of interest and will be until we’ve finalized our investigation,” Morrell said last night.
James Robarge, whose last known address is on Westminster Road in Putney, Vt., was arrested July 2 on charges unrelated to his wife’s disappearance. He was apprehended at an urgent care facility in Bellows Falls, Vt., after a police chase on Route 121 that ended in a foot pursuit. According to court documents, James Robarge had made an appointment for 3 p.m. at the Rockingham Medical Group last Tuesday and gave doctors the impression he could become violent and hurt himself or others, according to court documents.
Doctors notified Bellows Falls police, who then tried to catch James Robarge before his arrival at the facility. The officers spotted his 1996 Green Chevrolet Blazer traveling south on Route 121 and conducted a “felony stop.” James Robarge pulled over, but when officers asked him to step out of the car, he sped away to the urgent care facility. Once he arrived, James Robarge ran inside where officers eventually tackled him to the ground.
James Robarge has been charged with attempting to elude with gross negligent operation, a felony, and gross negligent operation, a misdemeanor. He pleaded not guilty to both charges at an arraignment Wednesday in Windham Superior Court.
Morrell said Robarge is still in custody in Vermont.
The New Hampshire State Police Major Crime Unit will continue the investigation, with assistance from Vermont State Police, Charlestown police and Claremont police, Morrell said.
Kelly Robarge was last seen at 11:20 a.m. on June 27. Charlestown police were notified of her disappearance later that afternoon.
Her mother, Hewitt, and daughters, Gabrielle and Ciera, communicated with each other about Kelly Robarge’s whereabouts that afternoon after James Robarge went to his estranged wife’s home on Happy Acres Road and found the family’s five German shepherds barking and the grandson alone. He was still receiving his mail at the residence.
By 8 last evening, authorities had finished their work at the site. A small caravan of state police cruisers and the department’s mobile crime truck, which serves as a crime lab on wheels, rumbled down Britton Road.
An hour later, eight miles or so away in Claremont, a plastic jug sat on the outdoor counter of Wade’s Place, an ice cream stand. “Help Bring Kelly Robarge Home Safe,” read a small sign taped to the jug. After starting to take up a collection on the Fourth of July, Mercedes West and other workers at the ice cream stand had collected nearly $100, in crumpled bills and coins. West, who goes to college with Robarge’s oldest daughter, had heard the news earlier in the day about a body being found in Unity that police believed were Robarge’s remains. If that turns out to be the case, the money will be used, West said, to help pay for burial expenses.
Jim Kenyon contributed to this report.
Katie Mettler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3234.