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Mysterious Disappearance of Maine Teacher Terrifies Locals
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Mysterious Disappearance of Maine Teacher Terrifies Locals

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NORTH YARMOUTH — October 4, 2018

A local teacher was last seen when she went to bed with her husband, Jay, around 8 p.m. Sunday, according to the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

47-years-old Kristin Westra, a teacher at Chebeague Island School, was nowhere to be found when her husband woke up Monday morning, although her personal belongings, vehicle, cell phone, and keys were at home, police said.

According to the latest reports, Westra’s husband went to the nearby North Yarmouth Fire Department on Walnut Hill Road around 9 a.m. Monday to report his wife missing. Lt. Mark Holmquist of the Maine State Police said the man was very worried. The search continued continuously for almost two days.

Regan Goan, a commander with the Cumberland County Emergency Management Unit of the Sheriff’s Office, said the search had covered more than 20 miles as of late Tuesday morning.

At least 50 police and civilian volunteers were involved in the search just after noon, said Cumberland County Sheriff’s Capt. Scott Stewart.

Teams gathered at the North Yarmouth Fire House on Walnut Hill Road before they split up and set off on grid searches of the area. Civilians wearing hiking gear and blaze orange joined police in green military-style fatigues.

Police officers led a search dog into Westra’s home early Tuesday afternoon, and dog teams were working to help comb the area nearby.

The search was suspended around 6 p.m. on Tuesday partly due to weather conditions and because of information detectives had gathered Tuesday during their investigation. The search may continue today.

It is unclear why the search didn’t continue yesterday, other than to say that teams have already scoured “a very large coverage area.” Holmquist added that it is “too soon” to say that Westra’s disappearance is suspicious. It is also known that the police have not released any information about the missing, and it was not reported why the woman would be missing.

Police interrogations of possible witnesses, relatives and friends of the missing person took place over the first two days.

The missing woman’s brother, Eric Rohrbach, said police have theorized that Westra was not thinking clearly and for some reason felt the need to leave her home. But Westra has no history of mental health diagnoses, her brother said, and had an aversion to taking medications such as sleeping pills that may have altered her mood or ability to think rationally.

“It’s incredibly surreal. It’s something out of a nightmare,” said Rohrbach, 45, of New Gloucester. “It’s a horrible situation to think that she’s immobilized somewhere in the woods. But there’s a huge party searching for her.”

Westra has a 9-year-old daughter and a 17-year-old stepson. Her brother added that it is deeply out of character for her to leave home without telling anyone or having a way to communicate.

Rohrbach said he talks with his sister regularly and was surprised when she didn’t return his phone call Sunday. Then, on Monday morning, he learned of her disappearance.

According to a police survey, it also turned out that Westra was worried about work conditions while the Chebeague Island School where she teaches is being remodeled.

And she faced similar stresses at home, he said, where the Westra family home was also undergoing major renovations to the entire first floor.

“When she comes home, [the family members] don’t have a place to relax,” Rohrbach said. “They were like eating dinner in the garage. Kristin is someone who likes to come home and curl up with a book, and she couldn’t do that.”

However, Rohrbach noted that his sister is a very active woman and can always find another job.

Detective Sgt. Scott Harriman of the state police said authorities are interviewing the contractor who was working at the home, but police have said there is nothing to lead them to believe foul play is involved.

Rohrbach said there were no indications that his sister intended to leave home Monday morning. She had plans to see friends and had a doctor’s appointment later on Monday.

However, during his telephone conversation with her, as Rohrbach noted, he heard her alarmed voice but he didn’t ask why.

Jay Westra added that his wife was restless and had trouble sleeping. He also told Rohrbach that he believed she got up before dawn Monday morning. When asked if the woman was a sleepwalker, Jay said no.

Rohrbach also supported the assertion that it was hard to imagine that Westra would have taken any sleep medications, some of which are known in some cases to cause behavior such as sleepwalking. Jay Westra also said there is no such sleep medication in the home.

“She’s not on any medications,” he said, adding that she resists taking any.

Family members and police think she may have walked out of the house, he said.

The teachers at the school, headed by the school’s principal, Michael Pulsifer, said he is in close contact with students and parents regarding Westra’s disappearance. Other teachers have been filling in during her absence.

“We’re ever hopeful that Kristin will be found safe. We are keeping the faith,” Pulsifer said Tuesday night.

As for the missing woman’s work, she teaches 3rd to 5th grade students at Chebeague Island School. As Chebeague Island is no longer affiliated with SAD 51, having broken away from the district 11 years ago, many teachers have to take the ferry every day to reach the school, which serves pre-school through fifth grade students.

According to Westra’s profile on the Chebeague Island School’s website, the woman experienced island life at an early age, spending her summers at her family’s camp in North Hero in the Lake Champlain islands.

She attended the University of Vermont, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, with a minor in German. Westra comes from a long line of educators, including her mother and several other family members, according to her profile.

After teaching in Vermont for two years, Westra moved to Portland. Her hobbies include cooking, travel, running, and swimming. This school year would be her eighth year teaching on Chebeague Island.

Westra has brown hair and brown eyes, weighs around 140 pounds and is 5 feet 10 inches tall. Police are not sure what she was wearing at the time of her disappearance.

Author: USA Really