Update

PORTLAND — Police believe a New Hampshire woman died from exposure in Maine, but they’ll have to wait a while longer before they know for sure.

An autopsy was performed today in Augusta, but the state Medical Examiner’s Office couldn’t reach a definitive conclusion about a cause of death for Sarah Rogers. Further studies have been ordered up.

1 a.m.

CLINTON — A brown leather jacket in the woods led to the discovery Saturday of the body of Sarah Rogers, the 29-year-old Barrington, N.H., woman who had been missing since abandoning her car on the highway three months ago.

Douglas Hillman said he found the jacket near his property while conducting a personal search after his son, a local fire captain, told him that another search was being planned now that most of the snow had melted. When he spotted the jacket, “I put two and two together,” he said, and called police.

Maine State Police Trooper Rick Moody accompanied Hillman back into the woods, about 500 yards from his house, where they found a necklace and other clothing items. About 30 feet from power lines, Hillman found the body.

The discovery around 2 p.m. Saturday brought to a close the search for Rogers, who had gone missing during a snowstorm on Dec. 13. Her body was found less than a half-mile from where her car had been abandoned along Interstate 95, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The state Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta is scheduled to conduct an autopsy of Rogers’ body today, McCausland said Sunday.

“There is no indication of foul play,” McCausland said. “Some of her clothing had been shed; the shedding is a sign of hypothermia. But, obviously, we’ll wait for the medical examiner to conclude the cause of death.”

McCausland said Rogers’ husband, Fritz Coulombe, and her father, Bob Rogers of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., were notified of the discovery late Saturday afternoon.

Bob Rogers had in recent months personally participated in extensive searches with police along the interstate in Clinton.

“We’re devastated,” he said in a telephone interview Sunday. “I had some hope. I expanded this search; we went nationwide. We were able to get on the ‘Today’ show and make an appeal and felt she was not in the woods. So, I’ve been kind of living on that hope and now everything’s dashed.”

‘THIS COULD HAVE BEEN STOPPED’

Rogers’ sadness Sunday was mixed with frustration. He said his daughter, who suffered from bipolar disorder, might not have died in the Maine woods if the Barrington Police Department had handled the situation differently.

It wasn’t her first dangerous episode, he said, and she had “gone off and wandered before and has been hospitalized and then stabilized with medication and then resumed her life.”

Soon after the birth of her son Elias, now 2, Sarah Rogers went wandering in Delray Beach, Fla., but was found the next day after police issued a “be on the lookout for,” or BOLO notice, according to her father.

“Her mind was racing as it can and, when it gets manic, then all of a sudden it shuts down and she gets catatonic,” Rogers said.

The week she went missing, Rogers said he suspected from phone conversations that she was “breaking down” and “becoming more paranoid,” and now suspects she hadn’t been taking her medication.

A few days before she disappeared, Sarah Rogers was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, but was released when a Breathalyzer test showed her alcohol level below the legal limit, her father said. Coulombe subsequently took away her car keys, but she called Barrington police and an officer “threatened to arrest him if he didn’t give them back,” Rogers said.

Then on Dec. 13, Coulombe called police to report her missing and “stated to them unequivocally that Sarah was a danger to herself and possibly to others because she was in a disturbed state of mind,” Rogers said.

However, police waited two days before issuing a BOLO notice, he said, missing an opportunity for his daughter to be stopped while she was driving.

Rogers said he wasn’t notified her car had been found by police until a week after the fact. “There were a number of points where this could have been stopped,” he said.

Barrington police Sunday referred questions to Police Chief Richard Conway, who was not available.

‘WE WILL MOVE ON’

Sarah Rogers apparently crashed her blue Scion xB between mile markers 140 and 141 on I-95 in Clinton and then walked away.

Bob Rogers has said his daughter was wearing shorts, dress shoes without socks, a tank top and a spring jacket. Temperatures were in the mid-30s during the snowstorm.

Her car was found by a passing tow-truck driver, who called police. Footprints in the snow led from the car across the median, ending at the southbound lanes.

Bob Rogers joined the third search for his daughter, conducted three weeks after she went missing, and says now that he initially suspected that she had died in the woods because “it’s not like her to not have at least called me.”

During the second search, however, he said a tracking dog could not pinpoint her scent so “it was like a cloud was sort of lifted. I was thinking she was at least not in those woods.”

The searches turned up no signs of her, and he had been waiting for the forthcoming “definitive” search now that the snow had melted.

Bob Rogers said Sunday he didn’t know what his family would do except “we will move on.” Arrangements will be made later.

A Web site set up by Rogers’ family, findsarahrogers.com, thanked “everyone who prayed and helped look for their loving wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend.”