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Man in Murder Charge Had Record

Charlestown — The Vermont man charged this week with murdering his estranged wife was convicted of assaulting her nearly two decades ago.

Court documents show that in 1996, James Robarge “knowingly caused unprivileged physical contact” with his wife, Kelly Robarge, by grabbing her by the hair and slamming her against a car.

Kelly Robarge, 42, went missing on June 27 from her Charlestown home, and her remains were found Saturday near Britton Road in Unity. Kelly Robarge filed for divorce the same day she went missing. The couple had been married for 21 years.

The simple assault occurred on Sam Putnam Road in Charlestown. James Robarge plead guilty to the charge and was sentenced to 30 days in prison, which was suspended because of good behavior.

James Robarge also was convicted of simple assault in Vermont’s Windham County in 1989, three years before the couple was married. Court documents related to that incident were not available on Wednesday. Windham County State’s Attorney Tracy Shriver said she didn’t know the nature of the assault or who the victim was, and New Hamsphire Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell declined to comment .

A court affidavit released earlier this week alleges that James Robarge physically and verbally abused his wife. A friend told police that James Robarge had threatened to kill his wife and put her through a “wood splitter” if she filed for divorce. Two nights before Kelly Robarge disappeared, she took a walk with a friend and told her that James Robarge had prevented her from leaving the home and kicked a car, leaving dents.

Kelly’s Robarge’s maternal grandmother, Mary Wright, said on Monday that James Robarge was “always so mean to her” and he would on occasion pull her hair. At the same time, Wright said that James Robarge could be “nice as pie” at times.

A phone message left yesterday at the home of Kelly Robarge’s mother and grandmother was not returned.

On Monday, James Robarge, 43 of Saxtons River, fought extradition to New Hampshire in Vermont’s Windham Superior Court. New Hampshire officials have issued an arrest warrant charging Robarge with reckless second-degree murder. He is being held without bail at the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt.

Robarge was already in custody in Vermont when he was charged with the murder. Police allege he fled on July 2 while on his way to a medical facility, and Robarge faces separate charges of attempting to elude with gross negligent operation of a vehicle, a felony, and gross negligent operation, a misdemeanor.

Robarge is scheduled to appear again in Windham Superior Court in about 30 days to continue the extradition process.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.