Kristin Westra’s friends and family are in disbelief.

Three days after the 47-year-old public school teacher vanished from her North Yarmouth home, the people who know and love her are struggling to understand how the committed mother and teacher who was known to be warm and vivacious could have disappeared.

Kristin Westra

Police and game wardens found no clues to Westra’s whereabouts during a search Tuesday of the wooded area within a 1.5-mile radius of her home that “eliminated with high probability” she was in the vicinity of the house on Lufkin Road that she shared with her husband, daughter and stepson, Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service said Wednesday.

As police and game wardens continued to comb the woods and ravines near her rural home with drones and dogs Wednesday, a brigade of Westra’s friends reached out to the family, showing up to help in the search or by sending food or well-wishes, said her brother, Eric Rohrbach.

But no one has any clear idea what happened, where she went, or what could have led to her disappearance.

“She would never intentionally do anything like this,” said Jennifer Hatch Gubbins, 49, who met Westra when they were assigned to be roommates during their freshman year at the University of Vermont.


Westra was always the one to stay in touch and make plans, Gubbins said.

“Normally, she has a love of life, a love of people, love of friends. (She is) just one of those people that is so charismatic and energetic and loves to be active,” she said. “I think something happened that she maybe wasn’t herself, and I think it might have happened quickly. Because to disappear like that is just so out of character.”


Westra, a teacher at Chebeague Island School, was last seen at the family’s home on Lufkin Road when she went to bed with her husband, Jay, around 8 p.m. Sunday, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said.

She was nowhere to be found when her husband woke up Monday morning, although her vehicle, cellphone, keys and wallet were still at home, a family member and police said.

Jay Westra drove to the nearby North Yarmouth Fire Department on Walnut Hill Road around 9 a.m. Monday to report his wife missing, said Lt. Mark Holmquist of the Maine State Police. Since then, state police and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office have been conducting parallel investigations, while game wardens conduct a ground search.


Searchers cross a field Wednesday near Lufkin Road in North Yarmouth as they look for elementary school teacher Kristin Westra, 47, who was reported missing Monday morning. The emotional toll is weighing on the woman’s family, friends and colleagues.

Wednesday morning, wardens and police focused on a gravel pit not far from the house and searched the area using a police dog, but there was no update about how the teams were refocusing their efforts to find Westra, or whether they had any new clues to go on. There appeared to be fewer searchers than were combing the woods Tuesday. Meanwhile, the emotional toll of Westra’s disappearance has begun to weigh on her closest friends and colleagues, as well as her husband.

“I’ve done nothing to impede the investigation, in fact I’ve done everything I could to help,” Jay Westra told News Center Maine (WCSH/WBLZ) when asked if he had any information about his wife’s disappearance. “I don’t personally care about my situation right now. My situation is secondary, my feelings are secondary. My primary thing is the return of Kristin to me and her family. … I don’t care what people think. I don’t care what people gossip. That’s a non-issue, a non-thought to me, I only have one thought.”

Michael Pulsifer, principal and superintendent of the Chebeague Island school, said he and his staff at the school of 25 students are trying to maintain a degree of normalcy for the kids.

“It’s been a very somber place,” Pulsifer said. “We’re doing our best to keep the kids focused and on a routine so it seems like it’s normal for them. For the adults, I’m in shock right now and I’m hoping we have some good news very soon.”


At the school, Westra wore at least two hats. She taught grades 3 through 5 in the school’s only classroom. Pulsifer, who works part time at the school, two days a week, also relied on Westra to help make decisions and act as a leader when he was gone.


“She’s just a very committed person to children and is very organized,” he said. “She reaches out and cares about children.”

But teaching was not Westra’s first career, said Gubbins, her college roommate.

After they graduated, both Gubbins and Westra worked at the same large company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Both also took assignments at satellite locations in California for a number of years.

After Westra’s first marriage ended in divorce in 2001, she moved back to Vermont, Westra’s brother said, and Gubbins eventually moved back to Vermont as well.

Gubbins said she rushed to Maine on Tuesday to support her friend’s family and to help look for Westra, while still trying to understand what may have happened.


“It’s a sickening feeling that she’s gone and no one knows where she is right now,” Gubbins said. “If she’s OK, I know she wants to be found.”

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

Twitter: MattByrnePPH

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