Authorities in Florida are trying to determine whether a multi-million dollar lottery winner who hasn't been seen in more than eight months vanished suspiciously or if he disappeared intentionally, hoping never to be found.
Abraham Shakespeare, 43, was last seen in April but was only reported missing in November, according to Polk County, Fla., police, a time lapse that has authorities wondering where, exactly, the multimillionaire is.
"It's a situation where the longer he has been without contact with friends or family, it certainly raises our level of concern," Polk County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Donna Wood told ABCNews.com.
Shakespeare made headlines in 2006 when he won $31 million in the Florida Lottery, only to be sued the next year by a co-worker who alleged that Shakespeare had stolen the winning tickets from him. A jury sided with Shakespeare in October 2007 and he took home a lump sum of $17 million.
Detectives investigating Shakespeare's disappearance found that no one had seen him since early April, yet he was not reported missing until seven months later, on Nov. 9.
"It certainly seemed strange to us," Wood said of the seven-month lapse.
Wood said police have been involved with Shakespeare in the past, arresting him five times since 1989. Most of the offenses are non-violent: traffic violations for driving with a suspended license in 2008 and 2007 and withholding child support in 2006.
He was also arrested in 1991 and held for another agency and picked up in 1989 for loitering, prowling and carrying a concealed weapon.
Caught in the police inquiry is Dorice "Dee Dee" Moore, a woman who is claiming she helped Shakespeare's vanishing act. Police have searched her home and car and questioned her extensively, she told the Florida newspaper The Ledger.
Moore could not be reached for comment by ABCNews.com, but she told the Ledger that Moore wanted to escape.
Moore told the paper that Shakespeare had "planned on running" and that he had "planned on not coming back." She said the lottery winner was "tired of fighting child-supoprt battles in court" and was sick of people "badgering him for money."
Shakespeare left enough money to provide for his mother, Moore told the paper, and set up a power of attorney so he would never have to return to deal with any legal issues.
Moore told the paper that she bought Shakespeare's property from him before he disappeared and says she has tried without any success to collect on money owed to him, primary about $350,000 in mortgages.
Moore told The Ledger that she wished Shakespeare would come back to clear up police suspicions about her because since he disappeared she has been treated "like a suspect."
Police declined to specify who reported Shakespeare missing and would not comment on Dorice "Dee Dee" Moore, a woman who is claiming she helped Shakespeare's vanishing act.
Shakespeare's mother, Elizabeth Walker, did not immediately respond to messages left by ABCNews.com.
Police spokeswoman Wood said that if Shakespeare is purposely in hiding, he has the right to do so, but they are asking for him to contact police so they can confirm his whereabouts and well-being. Police, she said, have promised not to reveal his location if he contacts them.
"He certainly had the money, he had the means to make himself unavailable," Wood said.
Anyone with information about Shakespeare's whereabouts is asked to call Heartland Crime Stoppers at 800-226-TIPS. There is a $5 000 cash reward for information leading to Shakespeare's location.