Missing Kingston man found dead in Vermont, believed from exposure
Don Pope, 60, appears to have died from exposure, according to a preliminary investigation by Vermont State Police. However, his body was transported to the Vermont Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for a post mortem examination to determine the official cause and manner of death, state police said in a news release.
North Conway Lt. Christopher Perley said Pope was pulled over in North Conway at 1:21 a.m. Saturday. An officer discovered he was listed in the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) computer system as a missing person, a report his family filed with Kingston police.
However, Perley said Pope was released about 20 minutes later because police had no reason to detain him, that there was no Involuntary Emergency Admission detention order or pending warrants for his arrest.
"Tragic events like this expose the gaps in the system that make it difficult for law enforcement to protect the weak, the ill and the feeble," he said.
"You have to have a lawful right to hold someone. He's a grown adult and you have a right to be anonymous. You can't always protect your loved ones from themselves," Perley said.
Pope's body was discovered after state police were called about 7:50 a.m. Easter Sunday concerning an abandoned car parked in a field off Sevens Hill Road East.
The car turned out to have been rented by Pope, whose family had filed a missing person's report in New Hampshire about two weeks ago, according to Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Jake Zorn.
There were indications someone had walked away from the car, according to investigators.
As a result, Vermont State Police decided to launch a full-scale search involving its Search and Rescue Team, with assistance of state game wardens, the Walden Fire Department, New England K9 search teams and an Air National Guard helicopter, which searched the area throughout the day.
Pope's body was found about a quarter mile from the rental car, state police said.