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February 20. 2012 12:44PM

Missing Mass. woman found walking along road near Pat's Peak


Melanie Quinton 

HENNIKER - A Massachusetts woman with an apparent psychological disorder was reunited with her family on Monday, a day after she wandered off at Pat's Peak.

Melanie Quinton, 47, was found walking along Bear Hill Road, several miles from the ski mountain.

“She was doing well for being in the woods for 24 hours,” said Bill McCrackin, the volunteer member of the Hillsborough Fire Department who encountered Quinton.

After she was positively identified, Quinton was transported to Concord Hospital for evaluation.

Quinton has disappeared repeatedly over the past couple years, since she developed a psychological disorder, according to her husband, Robert Quinton of Belmont, Mass.

Robert Quinton said the family drove to Pat's Peak on Sunday to let their daughter ski on the bunny slope. He and his wife had gone to the lodge for a drink when she left to go the bathroom and did not return.

Henniker police led the search, with assistance from N.H. Fish and Game, State Police, and the Hillsborough police and fire departments. Police issued an alert through the A Child Is Missing program, which makes automated calls to residents in a one-mile radius of the disappearance.

Police received several tips, but in the end, McCrackin was in the right place at the right time.

As he was driving his truck along Bear Hill Road, he saw Quinton heading across a pasture toward a barbed wire fence. “I think she would have continued hiking,” McCrackin said. “I had to talk to her to get her to come with me. It was just about being nice and convincing her to come back. I took her by the hand, told her I was a firefighter and cajoled her to get in my truck.”

Robert Quinton said his wife began her habit of wandering off two years ago.
“She's been through quite a few physicians and they haven't been able to put labels on it, whether it's bipolar or schizophrenia or depression.”

His wife's most recent disappearance was brief, compared to past excursions.

On one occasion, she took a bus to Pittsfield, Mass. and was found 10 days later in Albany, N.Y. after walking across a state park. Another time she flew to Utah, where she was found by police walking along a highway with the temperature below-zero.

On another occasion, Quinton managed to catch up to his wife in Puerto Rico.
He's cut off her credit cards, but Quinton said this might be leading her to take greater risks in venturing off without preparation, as was apparently the case on Sunday.

Quinton was wearing several layers of warm clothes when she disappeared, including a winter coat with a fur-lined collar and hiking boats, but had little or no money, food or identification.


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