BETHEL -Police described the death of a woman missing since Tuesday as “unusual” when her body was found Friday on a mountain in Bethel.

The body of Kim Vanderlaan, 40, was found by a search team on Walker Mountain at about 9:45 a.m, police said.

“There’s a lot that we still don’t know at this point,” said Maine State Police Detective Brian McDonough. “I think we would probably categorize this as unusual. I don’t know that we would put it into a suspicious category.”

He did not rule out foul play but said more investigation was needed to be certain.

Vanderlaan’s body was found about three-quarters of a mile behind her residence at 718 Walkers Mills Road, which is also Route 26. Searchers from Mahoosuc Mountain Search and Rescue found her body in a coordinated effort that involved volunteers, professional police and rescue personnel.

Vanderlaan’s estranged husband was at the search headquarters Friday morning. Upon notification of her death, he was allowed to return to Rhode Island, where he lives with the couple’s two young children. Bethel Police Chief Alan Carr said Kim Vanderlaan had lived in Bethel for about a year. She was a frequent visitor to the Sunday River Ski resort but was not well-known to locals.
Lt. Pat Dorian of the Maine Warden Service said Vanderlaan’s body was found near the top of the mountain, which is about 1,600 feet high. He said the body was above a section of steep cliffs.

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Vanderlaan was reported missing to Bethel Police by her boyfriend, John St. Hilaire, at 8 p.m. Tuesday. Vanderlaan was last seen at about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at her home, McDonough said.

Maine State Police detectives were seen speaking with Vanderlaan’s husband and St. Hilaire. Upon notification of her death, St. Hilaire appeared distraught, holding his head in his hands and dropping to one knee for a moment while he spoke with a detective.

The state’s deputy chief medical examiner, Dr. Marguerite DeWitt, examined Vanderlaan’s body where it was found, but a full autopsy would also be conducted, McDonough said.

“I think from the scene, they will have significant findings there,” he said. “And then we will wait and see what the autopsy will show, which I am assuming it will be tomorrow.”

Police were not certain of the time of death but believed it may have been sometime Tuesday between noon and 6 p.m.
McDonough said Vanderlaan was “somewhat of an outdoors person,” so it would not have been all that unusual for her to go out hiking.

“Based on her prior habits, we knew certain things about her and that led us to places to look for her,” Dorian said.

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An unidentified man reacts after Game Warden Lt. Pat Dorian, right, informed him they had found Kim Vanderlaan’s body Friday morning on Walkers Mountain.

John St. Hiliaire reacts after Maine State Police Det. Terry James informed him they had found Kim Vanderlaan’s body Friday morning on Walkers Mountain.


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