HOULTON, Maine — Christopher Roof, the man recently identified from human remains discovered in Stacyville 10 years ago, is not the first member of his prominent family to be found dead in an unusual situation.
The circumstances of Roof’s death are similar to that of his mother, Marcia Moore, who disappeared in 1979 and whose remains were discovered in the woods two years after her death in the state of Washington. The cause and manner of her death were listed as undetermined, just like her son’s in Maine, Maine State Police confirmed.
A hunter found Roof’s body in 2010, but Roof had never been reported missing, so police had no match for the body’s DNA sample. The identification came when Sydney Copp, who had attended the same church as Roof and was his student when he was a substitute teacher at Concord-Carlisle High School, called police with a tip on Aug. 9. Copp thought the description of the body’s clothing was similar enough to Roof’s to report it to police. Detectives then obtained a DNA sample from Roof’s family, and were able to match the body to his identity.
Christopher L. Roof was born in Concord, Massachusetts, in 1951 to Simon Roof and Marcia Moore. Moore was the daughter of Richard Moore, the founder of the Sheraton Hotel chain, although she separated herself from her family as an adult.
Marcia Moore had attended Radcliffe College, which has since merged with Harvard University, before writing a series of books on countercultural subjects like astrology and yoga, well before they became mainstream topics. A collection of her writings are available at the Concord Public Library.
A member of the First Parish Church in Concord, Roof shared a hometown and congregation with Henry David Thoreau, whose writings of simple living in the woods he deeply admired.
Copp recalled Roof as beloved by the community of Concord. But because of his love of Thoreau, many people who knew him, including family members, had assumed he had gone off to live in the woods, and so no missing persons report was ever filed.
“He was just so kind, like our very own Mr. Rogers,” she recalled. “He made a huge impact on kids in our community, and I just couldn’t shake that idea that he was missing.”
When Copp heard on a podcast the description of the clothing on the body found in Stacyville — a Vineyard Vines button-down shirt, New Balance sneakers, dress socks and a hat with the name “Chris” on it — she knew it had to be Roof.
“All of the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up,” she recalled.
Christopher, like his mother, pursued a literary career and has a biography featured in the Concord Public Library. He attended Hampshire College for two years before graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Emerson College in 1978.
He self-published a number of poetry books for both children and adults, taught as a substitute at Concord-Carlisle High School and served on the Concord Historical Commission in the 1990s.
His mother also had a connection to Maine. According to her biography in the Concord Public Library, Moore remarried several times, including to Mark Douglas, and together they had moved to Maine, although the biography does not say where they resided. Several of Moore’s books, such as “Diet, Sex, and Yoga”, “Reincarnation, the Key to Immortality” and “Astrology in Action” were co-written with Douglas.
She later married Howard Alltounian, and moved to Washington state, where they experimented with the drug ketamine — used in anesthesia and known to have powerful hallucinogenic effects. It is believed that her constant use of the drug may have contributed to her own disappearance, although a wide array of other theories persist.
Moore disappeared in Washington in 1979, and her remains were discovered two years later in the woods a distance away from her home. The cause of her death, like her son’s, is yet to be determined.
Shortly before disappearing, Roof had donated a collection of his mother’s writings to the library in 2009, and had donated his own writings in 2007.