JACKSON, Maine — Foul play is suspected in the disappearance of a Florida firefighter missing in Maine since Feb. 16, the Maine State Police said Sunday.
A team of state police and Bangor police detectives over the weekend searched a Waldo County home investigators believe is the last place Jerry Perdomo, 31, of Orange City, Fla., was seen.
Police said the Jackson house is owned by the father of 24-year-old Daniel Porter of Bangor. Porter and his 25-year-old girlfriend, Cheyanne Nowak, may have been the last ones to see Perdomo, state police spokesman Stephen McCausland said in a press release issued Sunday afternoon.
Porter and Nowak were located and interviewed in Connecticut by detectives last week and have now returned to Maine.
“State police say foul play is suspected in the disappearance of a Florida firefighter who has been missing in Maine since February 16,” McCausland stated in a press release emailed to the media about 2:20 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
A couple of hours later, a team of police detectives continued to work at the rural Hadley Mills Road home where Perdomo was reportedly last seen. One appeared to carry rolled-up carpeting out to the Maine State Police evidence truck parked in the dirt driveway. Others brought smaller objects outside.
A missing persons poster emblazoned with the smiling face of Jerry Perdomo was tacked to a tree just outside the home.
Next-door neighbor Don Leino said that police had been busy at the small wooden house for days.
“It’s pretty crazy,” he said of the activity level next door. “I counted 21 [police] vehicles this morning … This is 24 hours a day. I’ve never seen nothing like it.”
According to Leino, earlier on Sunday the investigation involved dogs, and possibly divers. He said he saw police pull a sled down to the frozen pond behind the house that morning.
Leino said the home actually is rented by Daniel Porter’s father, Gary, who has been out of state since last fall. The home has been empty since then, although Daniel Porter has kept an eye on it, he said.
But about a week before “everything happened” with Perdomo, Daniel Porter began staying at the house, Leino said.
“Danny’s kind of a level-headed kid,” he said.
He described his neighbors as regular folks who are “related to half of Waldo County.”
“They just work all week and get crazy as hell on the weekends,” Leino said. “They party pretty hard, I think. But it’s a nice place to live. These guys have never caused anybody on this road any trouble.”
Although police have asked him questions about Perdomo and what might have happened next door, Leino said, he doesn’t have any answers.
“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t want to know,” he said.
Seminole County firefighter Troy Todak, who is in Maine to help with the search for Perdomo, reacted cautiously Sunday afternoon to McCausland’s announcement.
“Foul play is suspected but not confirmed,” Todak said in a phone interview. “We refuse to give up the fight to find Jerry. We are moving forward and are going to continue placing missing [person] posters up in areas where he might have been.”
Bangor firefighters Clifford “Kip” O’Brien, John Higgins, Jared Willey and Andy Willigar spent much of the weekend helping Todak and fellow Seminole County firefighter Dave Williams put up fliers with Perdomo’s picture on them around Bangor. They were joined by the missing man’s father, Jerry Perdomo Sr., and half-sister, Skye Ramos, both of New York City.
Williams, of Lake Mary, Fla., Perdomo Sr., and Ramos left Maine on Sunday for their respective homes.
Flanked by news media from Bangor and Orlando, Fla., Seminole County and Bangor firefighters along with Perdomo’s family on Saturday afternoon searched the woods along Kittredge Road opposite the closed landfill.
They went 50 to 100 feet off the road looking for signs that Perdomo might have been there.
They found nothing, but searching for their “brother” was important, Todak said.
“I can’t go back to Florida and tell my guys we didn’t look,” he said Saturday as the sun began to set.
In addition to the search of the house, state police impounded three vehicles in connection with the disappearance — Perdomo’s rental car, which was found abandoned in the parking lot of the Bangor Walmart, a car left behind at an Oakland car dealer by the couple after another vehicle was purchased there, and a vehicle owned by Porter.
A Dumpster at the Hannaford supermarket near Walmart in Bangor also
was searched in connection with Perdomo’s disappearance, McCausland said. Evidence gathered from inside the house in Jackson will be taken to the state police crime lab in Augusta for analysis.
A woman who identified herself only as “Lisa” told a Florida television reporter in town to cover the search for the missing firefighter that Jerry Perdomo had been coming to Maine once a month for the past 10 months to visit her.
The woman approached a news crew from WESH, the NBC affiliate in Orlando covering the story, in Bangor on Thursday. “Lisa” said Perdomo, 31, of Orange City, Fla., had been staying with her up until the night he disappeared, Feb. 16, according to a story posted on the television station’s website.
Seminole County firefighter Dave Williams said Saturday that he had not heard Perdomo mention a woman named Lisa.
She told the television crew that she did not know Perdomo was married until recently. Perdomo’s wife, Tonya Perdomo, reported him missing to the Bangor Police Department when she did not hear from him, according to WESH.
Bangor police have confirmed that Tonya Perdomo arrived Monday in Bangor. She has returned home, Williams said Saturday.
The couple’s two children, a boy, 10, and a girl, 3, are staying with grandparents, according to WKMG-TV, the CBS affiliate in Orlando. Tonya Perdomo is a teacher at Deltona High School in Deltona, Fla., and has been on a leave of absence since her husband’s disappearance, according to WKMG.
Perdomo, a former Marine, is described as a 200-pound Puerto Rican male, 5 feet 11 inches tall with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a black zip-up hooded sweatshirt, fatigue shorts and black sneakers.
Messages left for Nowak and Porter on their Facebook pages by the Bangor Daily News have not been returned.
Those with information about Perdomo’s whereabouts are asked to call the Bangor Police Department at 947-7382. The department’s anonymous tip line can be reached by pressing ext. 6. People with information also may call the Maine State Police at 624-7076.
BDN writer Abigail Curtis contributed to this report.