PORTLAND, Maine (CBS/AP) On Dec. 13, Sarah Rogers fled her home in a manic state, leaving her husband and young son behind. She left few clues when she abandoned her car 150 miles away in another state on a highway median in a snowstorm.
Police believed the New Hampshire woman was likely picked up by a motorist in central Maine. But it turns out her body was nearby all along; searchers found it Saturday less than a half-mile from her car.
A property owner looking for signs of the missing woman discovered her coat in the woods and contacted state police. A trail of clothing - boots, corduroy pants and sweater - led to Rogers' body.
Investigators believe she died from exposure because people suffering from hypothermia often feel a burning sensation, leading them to shed clothing, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
Her anguished mother, Ora Sorensen, said Monday, things might have turned out differently if police had acted swiftly on the family's warnings that Rogers was a danger to herself.
Maine troopers said they would have searched harder when they found the car along Interstate 95 in Clinton if they'd known Rogers' mental health history.
Rogers' husband, Fritz Coulombe, of Barrington, N.H, said there's no way his wife would have left behind their son, Elias, and missed his second birthday if she was in the right frame of mind. Rogers suffered from bipolar disorder and had become manic before her disappearance, her family said.
Maine State Police were unaware of her condition when a trooper discovered her idling car stuck in a snow bank with the driver's side door open. Three searches - two with dogs - turned up no sign of her.
Sorensen described her daughter as a talented guitarist and artist who moved two years ago to New Hampshire. Roger's mother said that as a teenager, Rogers was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which is characterized by dramatic mood swings. She tended to suffer a couple of manic episodes each year.
An autopsy conducted Monday by the state medical examiner's office in Augusta failed to provide the definitive answer; more studies were ordered, a spokeswoman said.
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