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At center, the daughters of missing Charlestown woman Kelly Robarge, Ciera and Gabrielle Robarge, are surrounded by friends and family at a vigil for their mother Tuesday night. (MEGHAN PIERCE/Union Leader Correspondent)

Estranged husband of missing woman a 'person of interest'

The estranged husband of a missing Charlestown woman is "an obvious person of interest" in his wife's disappearance, a state prosecutor said.

James Robarge, 43, of Rockingham, Vt., remained behind bars in a Vermont jail Thursday on unrelated motor vehicle charges. He called a Vermont medical center Tuesday and said "he might harm himself and he might harm others," Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell said.

Robarge pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in a Brattleboro, Vt., courtroom Wednesday afternoon to charges of attempting to elude, a felony, and reckless operation, a misdemeanor, according to a court official. He was being held on $5,000 cash or surety bail. Bail conditions included not operating a vehicle or consuming alcohol, the official said.

Mr. Robarge is accused of fleeing police before he was arrested at the Rockingham Medical Group in Bellows Falls Tuesday. He remained in the Southern State Correctional Facility in Springfield, Vt. on Thursday, according to a jail employee.

A week ago, the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office put out a statement saying they believe Kelly Robarge "suffered significant physical harm or death."

On Thursday, Morrell said Mr. Robarge was "an obvious person of interest being Kelly's husband and having been estranged for several months and she filed for divorce Thursday, the same day she disappeared, so he's an obvious person of interest in this investigation."

Morrell said Mr. Robarge "was arrested on independent criminal charges" separate from the Charlestown investigation.

Searchers who have been looking for the missing 42-year-old woman in both Vermont and New Hampshire took Thursday off.

"They are going to resume the searches (Friday) and I believe through the weekend and then if there are no results, we'll have to reassess where we've been and if there are any other areas we should search and if we have any additional tips," Morrell said.

Dozens of searchers from Fish and Game, state police and local police as well as volunteers have searched "targeted areas" in the two states, Morrell said.

"As we've said from the beginning, we were concerned for her physical safety and thought she could be seriously injured or dead and with every passing day when she's not in touch with other family members, our concerns grow deeper," Morrell said.

In a news release, Vermont State Police said that it became involved Tuesday after Bellows Falls, Vt., police received a report about a suspicious person that made an appointment at the Rockingham Medical Group.

"The reporting party also advised that 'This person was likely to become violent' and may be involved in a missing person case from Charlestown, New Hampshire," the news release said. Police said the suspicious person was identified as Mr. Robarge.

Vermont State Police said Bellows Falls police spotted Robarge traveling south on Vermont Route 121 in a 1996 Chevrolet Blazer with Vermont license plates. Officers stopped the Blazer, but Robarge refused to exit and sped into the village of Bellows Falls.

Robarge drove the Blazer into the medical building's parking lot, nearly striking pedestrians and coming to rest against a planter near the building's entrance. Robarge then immediately fled the vehicle and he ran inside the facility.

After running down several hallways, Robarge was taken into custody by officers from the Bellows Falls Police Department.


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