Wayne Pope told authorities that he left the house after she came to retrieve some belongings and that he arrived home several hours later to find her and the dog gone, police said.
Residents walking on the beach found the spotted black-and-white dog’s body early Saturday afternoon near a pier about two houses down from the Popes’ bay-front home, according to the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office. The dog had “obvious trauma to the upper torso,” according to the Maryland State Police, which is leading the investigation.
State Police spokesman Greg Shipley said he did not have more details about how the dog died. The Great Dane, named Bella, had continued to live with Wayne Pope in the couple’s home after Robin Pope moved out, police said.
Shipley said Robin Pope’s disappearance is considered “suspicious.”
“Nothing has been ruled out,” Shipley said in a phone interview. “Right now they’re looking at all possibilities. . . . It’s much too early in the investigation to speculate.”
Wayne Pope called the Queen Anne’s County Emergency Operations Center about 2 a.m. Saturday to say that when he returned home, his wife’s car was still there, but she and the dog were missing, police said.
Wayne Pope could not be reached for comment Sunday. Two numbers listed for him in public records were disconnected. A phone message left at Island Fence Co., which is listed at the same address, was not returned. The Queen Anne’s County Chamber of Commerce Web site lists Robin Pope as the owner of Island Fence.
Investigators found Robin Pope’s keys, purse, credit cards and cash in her car, state police said.
After the dog was found Saturday afternoon, Pope was deemed a “critical missing person” and police stepped up their search, according to Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office news release.
Robin Pope’s daughter, Rachael Pope, 19, said in a phone interview that her mother would not have intentionally left behind her cellphone or a medication that she needed daily. Rachael Pope said both were found in the car.
She said Bella, who at 10 was elderly for a Great Dane, “was my mom’s baby.”
In addition to owning the fence company, Robin Pope works as an assistant in a dentist’s office, her daughter said. Rachael Pope said that her mother moved out of the house about a month ago but that her parents were not legally separated.
“She’s a very, very high-spirited person — very happy and energetic,” Rachael Pope said.
In addition to searching the bay, investigators and crime-scene technicians are continuing to examine the area around the Popes’ home, police said.
Robin Pope is described as white, 5-feet-4, 105 pounds, with brown hair.
Anyone with information can reach the Maryland State Police at 410-758-1101.