Vigil Held For Missing Woman
(In purple at center), Robarge family friend Nicole LaVoie sings Amazing Grace during the Candlelight Vigil in Charlestown for Kelly Robarge, who has been missing since Thursday.
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Dee Simonds of Bellows Falls comforts Kelly Robarge's mother, Carol Hewitt of Charlestown, during the vigil for Kelly Robarge on Happy Acres Road in Charlestown, N.H., on July 2, 2013.
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Charlestown — In the hours before Kelly Robarge disappeared last Thursday, she was babysitting her 1-year-old grandson. That afternoon, her husband, James Robarge, arrived at the house and found the family’s five German shepherds barking and the grandson alone, Kelly Robarge’s mother, Carol Hewitt, said yesterday.
“I don’t know anybody in their right mind that would walk into a house with five German shepherds,” Hewitt said at a vigil last night for her daughter. “I can’t think of anything that somebody would harm Kelly over.”
Kelly Robarge, 42, of Charlestown, was last seen at 11:20 a.m. Thursday at her home on Happy Acres Road in Charlestown. New Hampshire Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell has called Robarge’s disappearance suspicious and said she fears Robarge is physically harmed or dead.
The Robarges have two daughters together, Gabrielle and Ciera, and a grandson, Richard. Hewitt, of Charlestown, said when her son-in-law arrived at the home and found his wife missing, he texted Ciera and asked if she’d seen her mother. Both daughters were at work. When Ciera arrived at her mother’s Happy Acres Road home, Hewitt said she received a call from her granddaughter between 3:30 and 3:45 p.m. asking her if she’d seen Robarge. One of Robarge’s friends eventually called the police, Hewitt said. Charlestown police say they were notified of Robarge’s disappearance at 4:30 p.m.
Court records show that on Thursday, the day she disappeared, Kelly Robarge filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. The divorce papers give James Robarge’s address as on Westminster Road in Putney, Vt.
“They still love each other and I don’t think he would hurt her,” Hewitt said. “And they had talked and kind of divvied things up so there wouldn’t be a fight and each go their own way and still remain friends. They have children together. They had discussed it and everything’s all right.”
More than 200 people attended the vigil for Robarge at the bottom of Happy Acres Road near where it intersects with Route 12. Cars filled the parking lot of the nearby Claremont Animal Hospital and cars lined the shoulder of the highway.
As dark clouds of area showers loomed overhead, family members and friends of Robarge began to light white candles in paper cups with hearts drawn on them. As they walked from parked cars to the gathering, many held candles, some even bringing their own lighter. Under a blue covering to shelter from the rain there was a stand upon which rested a framed photo of Robarge that read at the bottom “We love you.”
In the distance, one of Robarge’s neighbors could be seen lighting 12 long-stemmed lights in his front yard. The man declined to give his name, but said, “We just moved to the neighborhood not too long ago, so we don’t know her, but we want to show her support.”
Once all the candles had been lit, a group of women began to sing Amazing Grace. Nicole LaVoie, a friend of Gabrielle Robarge, held a phone in her hand, from which she read the lyrics as she sang. All around LaVoie, people slowly stopped singing until LaVoie’s was the only voice that could be heard. About halfway through the song, her voice began to crack through tears, but she kept singing until she made it through all the lyrics.
“I don’t have a singing voice, but it’s the thought that counts,” LaVoie said afterward.
LaVoie met Gabrielle Robarge about six months ago in a sign language class at Granite State College and came to the vigil in support of Gabrielle.
As LaVoie spoke, Gabrielle walked up to her and said through tears, “This sucks.”
Many of those who attended the vigil said they personally knew Kelly Robarge. Doreen Short, of Charlestown, went to school with Robarge’s mother and used to live across the street from Robarge on Acworth Road.
“She was kind and sweet and her girls mean everything to her,” Short said. “She’s bubbly and happy-go-lucky. She was a super mom.”
Julie Kenyon, of Chester, Vt., stood in the back of the crowd and said she has known Robarge since she was a teenager. Kenyon works at Westminster Animal Hospital, and said Robarge was a “really good pet owner” who would sometimes bring her five German shepherds to the clinic.
As she looked around at the large crowd, she said she had suspected there would be a large turnout.
“She’s a good person,” Kenyon said.
Others, like Heidi Smith, of Charlestown, didn’t know Robarge, but came nonetheless to lend support.
“They can use all the prayers they can get,” Smith said. “I just think when the community faces something this sad and scary, we need to help each other. If it was my family, I’d appreciate the support.”
Tracy Williams, of Chester, Vt., has known Robarge for about 25 years and received numerous hugs during the vigil. Williams called Robarge her “best friend” and said they spoke every morning, often during their commutes to work.
“She loved her children and grandchildren more than she loved herself,” Williams said.
Robarge loved her job at Springfield Orthodontics, Williams said, and it was only two weeks ago that the duo were at Yankee Candle talking about the Christmas gifts Robarge would buy for her coworkers.
Robarge had previously worked as a paraprofessional at a local school, Williams said, and she did assembly work for the emergency warning products company Whelen Engineering in Charlestown.
Williams said it was her idea to organize the vigil.
“I set it up because I want the girls to have hope, but I don’t know if there’s much hope,” Williams said.
Hewitt has opened a “Kelly Robarge fund” at the Connecticut River Bank in Charlestown and said funds could be used to offer an award for information leading to Robarge’s disappearance. The state police are still seeking information about Robarge and can be reached at 603-271-3636.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3223.