Police Suspect Foul Play in Case of Missing Florida Firefighter

VIDEO: New developments have surfaced in the disappearance of Jerry Perdomo.

ABC News

Foul play is suspected in the case of the Florida firefighter who vanished 10 days ago after driving 1,600 miles from Florida to visit a friend, state police say.

Perdomo, 31-year-old husband and father of two, rented a car and made the trek from central Florida to visit a friend in Bangor, Maine. He hasn't been seen since Feb. 16.

Police searched a home in Jackson, Maine, this weekend, according to Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.  The home is believed to be the last place Perdomo was seen. Evidence gathered from inside the house in Jackson will be taken to the State Police crime lab in Augusta for analysis.

The home is owned by the father of Daniel Porter, who police believe had contact with Perdomo prior to his disappearance.

WESH-TV interviewed a woman who was identified as Lisa, who said she was the friend Perdomo was visiting. The woman said Perdomo stepped out the evening he disappeared to visit a friend and said he would return shortly to take her to dinner.

He never did.

The next day, Perdomo's rental car was found abandoned in a Wal-Mart parking lot with no signs of foul play.

Police tracked down and questioned Porter, 24, and Cheyanne Nowak, 23, at Porter's mother's house in Connecticut on Friday.

The couple had left their car, bought a used one and left Maine, leaving their families perplexed.

"I can't find my nephew. I'm worried about him," said Brian Porter, Daniel Porter's uncle.

The couple has now returned to Maine, according to McCausland.

State Police have impounded three vehicles in connection with the disappearance: Perdomo's rental car,  a car left behind at an Oakland car dealer by the couple after another vehicle had been purchased there; and a vehicle owned by Porter, according to McCausland.

Police also searched a dumpster near the Wal-Mart where Perdomo's car was found, according to McCausland.

Nowak's mother Deb Nowak defended her daughter in an interview with ABC News affiliate WFTV.

"She's a full-time honor student and works part-time at the mall, why would she risk everything she's worked for and be involved in something like this?" Deb Nowak.

She said that police considered Porter as the person of interest, not her daughter.

"I don't know much about him," Nowak said, but added that Porter is very quiet and came from a good family.

"I can't say much else, this is all speculation," Nowak said.  "He hasn't been proven guilty or innocent of anything."

Nowak told WFTV that her daughter has a misdemeanor drug arrest five years ago, but said she does not know if drugs are involved in this case.  She also denied her daughter had any involvement with Perdomo's disappearance.

Deb Nowak also said in an interview that the couple was staying with Porter's mother in Connecticut.  She said she's never heard of Perdomo but that she didn't think he was a friend of Porter's because "he doesn't have many friends and is usually very tight knit."

After Perdomo was reported missing, Porter and Cheyanne Nowak reportedly bought a used car and abandoned the one they were driving, telling an employee at the car lot that they had to leave town because of an emergency.

Cheyanne Nowak posted a cryptic message on her Facebook page: "I'm sorry for your loss. I'm sorry your friend is missing. It is a terrible thing. I am so sorry about this. But I can do nothing further. Night."

But Perdomo's fellow Florida firefighters aren't giving up. Two arrived in Maine to try to find their missing friend and colleague.

"We're going to go out there and walk and pound the pavement. The fire department has offered to do anything that we need to, to make sure this a productive effort," said Lt. Dave Williams, vice president of the Seminole County Professional Firefighters in Florida.

"He's a family man, he always talks and brags about his family, his kids and his wife," Williams said. "He's always got that glimmer in his eye when he talks about them. So for something like this where he comes up here and just not to be heard from is totally uncharacteristic of him."

The firefighters are canvassing the woods in the area where Perdomo disappeared, looking for clues. They join Perdomo's sister and father, who came up to Maine from New York.

"My dad cried really hard last night when it was snowing because he was just praying he was someplace warm and safe," said Skye Ramos, Perdomo's sister.

"We're hopeful that we're just going to run into him. The brothers are here to give him a ride home," said Kip O'Brien, a firefighter at the Bangor Fire Department.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...