Charles Woodburn’s body was found buried in his front yard in Jefferson more than a decade after he disappeared, and now his stepson said he thinks his mother — Woodburn’s wife at the time — was involved in his killing.

Brian Darling says that right after his mother died in 2010, her husband, Robert Gaudette, told Darling that she had killed Woodburn, who hadn’t been seen since at least 2003.

“Robert said, ‘Mother killed Chuck … but you don’t want to drag her name through the mud,'” Darling, who now lives in Iowa, said Monday.

A story in the Maine Sunday Telegram described how state police recovered Woodburn’s remains last week from a shallow grave on the property in front of the woodworking shop alongside a set of cement steps.

Gaudette, however, said on Monday that he never told Darling that and said Darling is bitter because Gaudette inherited the house at 219 Neck Road in Jefferson with about $29,000 in equity, when Diane Darling-Gaudette, his wife of four years, died.

Gaudette said his wife always told him her previous husband had left her and moved away, although he admits there were red flags in her account, like how Woodburn reportedly left behind all his tools, his truck and his wallet.

Now that police have found Woodburn’s skeleton in the front yard of 219 Neck Road, Gaudette suspects his wife may have been involved in his death.

“If a woman did do something like that to a man she was married to for 14 years, there had to be some motivation. I believe the motivation was abuse,” said Gaudette, reached Monday at Riverview Psychiatric Center, where he has been a patient since 2011.

After his wife died, Gaudette, who is legally blind, had a psychotic breakdown. Police reports indicate he pointed a gun at a deputy. Gaudette said he opted for treatment over prison.

State police unearthed Woodburn’s remains Aug. 27 and the Office of the State Medical Examiner determined that he was killed, although it has not released the cause of death.

State police will not say what led them to search the property years later, nor whether they suspect Diane Darling-Gaudette was responsible. They say Gaudette has been cooperative with the investigation. Woodburn was initially reported missing in 2010, though police say the missing persons report did not indicate a crime had been committed.

Some people say they did question what happened to Woodburn, who has no criminal record in Maine.

His daughter, Gina Mcwalter, who lives in Massachusetts, said she lost touch with her father in 1996. She tried to find him over the last three years and became concerned something had happened to him. Now, she hopes police can determine what happened and that justice is served.

Mcwalter, 40, does not believe the stepmother she knew could have been responsible for her father’s death.

“I honestly don’t think Diane could stand there and watch something like that,” Mcwalter said on Monday.

Darling was 5 when his mother met Woodburn. He said the couple, he and one of his brothers lived an isolated life on Neck Road, a dirt road off Route 213.

“We never had friends, even him,” Darling said Monday, adding that company never came over to the house.

His stepfather was unpredictable, he said.

“There were certain things that would just make Chuck snap,” Darling said, recounting an incident in which he forgot his asthma inhaler at a friend’s house, and he and his mother had to retrieve it. Woodburn was furious when they returned and began punching his mother. When Darling objected, Woodburn punched him.

“But there were other times I remember him taking us to the fair and spending hundreds of dollars and we got to do whatever we wanted,” he said.” It was like Jekyll and Hyde.”

When his mother told him that Woodburn had suddenly left, parts of her story didn’t add up.

“We thought Chuck had disappeared, ran off with another woman. That’s the story we were told by our mother,” Darling said. He was suspicious though, when she said Woodburn left behind his truck, his clothes and his wallet.

Darling said on Monday that family members recently found a guest book from his aunt’s funeral in 2003 that Woodburn had signed.

Darling doesn’t believe his mother could have acted alone, if she was involved. She didn’t like guns and weighed no more than 110 pounds, he said.

Gaudette said on Monday that his wife stuck to her story about Woodburn leaving her and had described Woodburn as abusive and their relationship as volatile. “It was believable to me,” said Gaudette, who said he never met Woodburn.

On Monday, Gaudette said that he and his wife-to-be met in April 2003 at a yard sale, and he moved into her place in June. They were married in May 2006.

When Woodburn’s remains were found, Gaudette said he wasn’t surprised. He had gotten notices for years from the state seeking back taxes and from New Hampshire seeking child support payments.

Asked what he thinks happened to Woodburn, and whether his wife was involved, Gaudette didn’t want to speculate.

“I’d like to think she didn’t, but what are the odds that a woman married to a guy for 14 years and his body turns up in the yard and she had nothing to do with it? Very unlikely,” Gaudette said Monday.

That doesn’t change the way he feels about her.

After a brief confrontation between Gaudette and his wife, detailed in court filings, that led to Darling-Gaudette being charged with domestic violence terrorizing, they resolved their issues.

“She loved me till the day she died and I loved her. She was a good woman, kind-hearted, unjudging. Obviously she had suffered in her life in many ways,” he said Monday.

Darling believes his mother might have told Gaudette about killing Woodburn, but wouldn’t have told him.

“She knew we would turn her in,” he said. “Mother or no mother, murder is murder.”

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