After a five-day search that cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, authorities are now saying a Massapequa man reported missing in the waters off Long Island Saturday may never have even been at the beach.
Raymond Roth, 47, was feared drowned, but on Wednesday he called his brother from Florida, and at 3:30 a.m. Thursday he was stopped for speeding in South Carolina, police said.
The 22-year-old son of Raymond Roth told officials Saturday that his father had disappeared during his daily swim at Jones Beach. That launched a massive air and sea search by police and the Coast Guard that lasted until Wednesday.
Capt. Bruce Marx, of the New York State Park Police, said Roth was allegedly driving 90 mph in South Carolina when he was stopped by cops early Thursday. When police checked his license, they saw he was listed as a missing person and contacted authorities in New York.
State park police got Roth's cellphone number from a relative and had several telephone conversations with him earlier Thursday. Authorities say Roth told them he was en route back to Long Island and could arrive later in the day. Marx noted there was no way to know if that's true. He said it was unclear if Roth would contact police when he returns to New York.
Roth's wife, Evana Roth, scheduled a press conference at her lawyer's office in Carle Place on Friday.
In the meantime, no criminal charges have been filed, Marx said. Police have not even been able to confirm that Roth was at Jones Beach Saturday, and said relatives' accounts could not be corroborated.
According to real estate records, Roth's house in Massapequa was put up for sale on July 21, a week before Roth went missing.
No one answered the door at the Roth home on a quiet, middle-class suburban street on Thursday. A "for-sale" sign was posted on the front lawn, and neighbors said the Cape Cod-style home had recently undergone extensive renovations.
Jane Stone, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 50 years, said Raymond Roth was always pleasant and would often use his snow blower to clear neighbors' walkways in the winter. She said she spoke to him last week and he was proud to show off his home's renovations.
"He was very happy and delighted and asked us to come over for a barbecue," she said, although they never followed through on the invitation. "He seemed very happy and everything, but this is before the house went on sale."
A Nassau County police spokesman said it was against department policy to say whether officers had been dispatched to the home for any reason in the past.
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