Robarge refuses to waive extradition to N.H. in killing of wifeLIBBY MARCH / VALLEY NEWS PHOTO
James Robarge, 43, looks over to his defense attorney during his extradition hearing in criminal court in Brattleboro on Monday.
BRATTLEBORO — A Saxtons River man is fighting extradition to New Hampshire where he is wanted for allegedly killing his estranged wife hours after she filed for a divorce.
James Robarge, 43, is charged in New Hampshire with second-degree murder in the June 27 death of Kelly Robarge, 42, of Charlestown, N.H.
Her badly decomposed body was found Saturday in a remote area of rural Unity, N.H., several miles from the Robarge home. Kelly Robarge, who worked at a dental office in Springfield, had disappeared from her home on June 27 while baby-sitting her baby grandson.
Second-degree murder charges were filed against James Robarge on Sunday night, and he was arraigned Monday afternoon in Brattleboro criminal court on charges of being a fugitive from justice. His court-appointed attorney, Windham County public defender Mimi Brill, told Judge David Suntag that Robarge refused to waive extradition back to New Hampshire.
N.H. Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell told reporters after Robarge’s court hearing Monday that New Hampshire would obtain a governor’s warrant, and formally apply to Vermont for Robarge’s transfer to New Hampshire, a process that would take about a month.
Meanwhile, Robarge was returned to the state prison in Springfield, where he has been held since July 2 when he was arrested for an unrelated incident at the Rockingham Medical Group in Bellows Falls, the day of a community vigil in honor of his missing wife.
Morrell refused to comment on evidence in the case although a lengthy affidavit filed in Brattleboro criminal court provided a lot of detail in the case, making clear that police immediately suspected Robarge and questioned him about apparent blood stains on his clothes and injuries to his body, which he attributed to dogs jumping up on him.
The assistant attorney general said that Robarge had been charged with “recklessly” causing Kelly Robarge’s death, although what weapon was used remained unknown. The couple separated in February, and had been married 24 years. They have two grown daughters and a grandson.
James Robarge has been living with his stepfather in Saxtons River, a village in the town of Rockingham, since the winter, court records stated.
According to court documents, the exact cause of death is unlikely to be known because of the condition of her body, which had been also disturbed by animals. Identification was made by dental records and a tattoo of a hummingbird and flowers on her back.
Police said they found blood splatter, consistent with an attack, at the home, as well as human blood in the bathroom, and large areas of smeared blood that had been at least partly cleaned up.
Police said they found a big blood stains on a car mat believed to be from the trunk of James Robarge’s Volkswagen Jetta, which had broken down two miles from where Kelly Robarge’s body was eventually found.
Searchers from the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, as well as the New England K-9 Search and Rescue, followed a trail of evidence from where the Jetta broke down, including blood-stained towels and rope, and eventually found oil stains from the car, which had a ruptured oil pan from driving on the rural road about two miles away, which police said was downhill from where they found the disabled car the day Kelly Robarge disappeared.
Police said Kelly Robarge’s body was found 300 yards off Britton Road in Unity, which police variously described as a “traveled grass road” and a path.
Police said they also found fresh damage at the Robarge home itself, as if the front door had been kicked in. A neighbor told police he heard a man and woman yelling — mostly the man — at the Robarge home that afternoon, but couldn’t hear what was being said.
Kelly Robarge had been at home baby-sitting her 1½-year-old grandson after filing her divorce papers in Claremont District Court, and the little boy was found alone at the home, along with five German shepherds.
James Robarge said he found his grandson alone at the home, and he immediately texted his younger daughter Ciera at her job in Claremont, asking where her mother was. When she came home at 3:30 p.m. she found her father with the baby. She called her mother’s best friend, who in turn called police.
That friend, Eiron Kimball, said that the couple had been having difficulties, with James Robarge verbally and physically abusing his estranged wife.
Kelly Robarge told her friend, police said, that “James had threatened to kill her by putting her in a wood splitter if they separate and she filed for divorce.”
Kimball told police that Kelly Robarge had recently started a relationship with her husband’s cousin, but she didn’t think James Robarge knew about it.
However, James Robarge told his daughter Ciera that her mother was having an affair and planned on getting the family home and their truck in any divorce.
Kelly Robarge’s purse and car were at the home, but her cellphone was missing, police said. She had earlier texted a friend that “he is here.”
Morrell said that the case was still under investigation, and that the charges might be upgraded if additional information supports it.
The affidavit, prepared by N.H. State Police Detective Sgt. John Sonia, stated that police immediately suspected Robarge, and took him into custody the evening of June 27, and held him overnight while they obtained a search warrant for his body.
Police said that Robarge had scratches and injuries to his body, including scratches on his torso and his hands were scraped and swollen.
Robarge appeared to have a blood stain on his sneaker, which he appeared to wash off when he used the bathroom at the Claremont Police Department, the affidavit stated. Robarge did not wash off a blood stain on his shorts, police said.
There was no information about whether the clothes were tested.
At one point, Robarge bolted from the Claremont Police Department, where he had been taken for questioning, and had run about half a mile, before police were able to capture him and return him pending a warrant. He was released the next day. Four days later, he called his psychiatrist at the Bellows Falls’ Windham Center to request an appointment, and told the office that he might harm himself or others, prompting the office to call police,
Bellows Falls and Vermont State Police eventually arrested Robarge after he had run into the medical facility to hide, and he’s been in police custody since July 2.
Judge David Suntag ordered Robarge held without bail Monday, pending the full extradition hearing. Robarge was being held for lack of $5,000 bail on the Bellows Falls charges.
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