Children Playing in the Woods Find Body of Missing Teacher After Her Suicide: Authorities

Children who were playing in the woods near the home of Kristin Westra in North Yarmouth, Maine, discovered her remains, according to authorities

Kristin WestraCredit: Cumberland County Sheriff's Office
Photo: Cumberland County Sheriff's Office

A missing elementary school teacher in Maine who vanished from her home early last week was found dead on Friday afternoon after killing herself, PEOPLE confirms.

Children who were playing in the woods near the home of Kristin Westra discovered her remains, according to authorities.

An autopsy performed over the weekend determined Westra, 47, died by suicide, according to a statement from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

The body of the mother of two, who disappeared overnight from her home late on Sept. 30 or early Oct. 1, was located deep in the woods behind her house in North Yarmouth.

According to her husband, Jay Westra, he and Kristin went to bed about 8 p.m. on Sunday. But Kristin, a teacher at Chebeague Island School, was gone when Jay awoke on Monday — leaving behind her phone, car and keys.

Jay reported her missing soon after.


Authorities had been searching for Kristin ever since, using drones and a number of canine units.

Kristin’s relatives reportedly said that she was dealing with some anxiety and stress before going missing, but, “the thought of her doing this to her family is completely out of the norm,” her brother, Eric Rohrbach, told ABC News.

Rohrbach previously told the Press Herald that both Kristin’s home and school were undergoing major renovations.

“[They] don’t have a place to relax,” he said of his sister’s family. “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.”

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Addressing his wife in an interview with NBC News Wednesday night, Jay said, “There’s nothing — there’s no problem, no embarrassment, no obstacle, that can’t be overcome when you come back.”

Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald via Getty

Jay told NBC that on Sunday morning, before Kristin disappeared, she “was experiencing what I would call some anxiety and she expressed that she had some sleepless nights and was worried.”

A friend who is a nurse practitioner came to evaluate her and raised no concerns, Jay said, and the rest of the day unfolded as normal.

“We’ve always taken care of everything, we’ve solved every problem,” he said in his NBC interview two days before his wife’s body was found. “We’re a team, we will be a team, your daughter loves you, your friends love you, your parents love you, your brother and sister-in-law love you, aunts and uncles, everybody wants you back.”

According to the Press Herald, Kristin’s memorial service will be held on Oct. 20.

She is reportedly survived by her husband, daughter and stepson.

Suicide Prevention: What to Know

Experts say some common warning signs of suicide include discussing a desire to die or feeling anxious or hopeless, like a burden, or trapped or in pain; withdrawing from others; extreme mood swings, including anger and recklessness; and abnormal sleep patterns (sleeping too much or too little).

Many suicides have multiple causes and are not triggered by one event, according to experts, who underline that suicidal crises can be overcome with help. Where mental illness is a factor, it can be treated.

Reaching out to those in need is a simple and effective preventative measure, experts say.

If you or someone you know is showing warning signs of suicide, consider contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, texting the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or seeking help from a professional.

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