Police say carpet found by a suburban highway may be linked to a convicted sex offender who was the last person seen with a missing Brooklyn woman.
State Police Lt. Brian Shortall said Saturday that investigators combing an area near Bloomingburg have found pieces of rug that may be from Michael Mele's apartment. The carpeting was spotted near State Route 17, about 80 miles northwest of Manhattan.
Nearly 200 volunteer firefighters from three different counties and 50 state police officers fanned out across Orange and Sullivan counties looking for more clues.
Authorities heightened their efforts after finding a piece of carpet Friday night just as the search was winding down. Sources told News 4 New York that the carpeting found appears to match the carpet from Michael Mele’s apartment, where a large section was missing, but it will be tested to determine whether there is a link.
Authorities said they found additional pieces of carpet Saturday alongside Route 17 West between Exits 116 and 118. State forest rangers returned to Mele’s apartment, where they launched a search in the woods nearby.
Late Saturday afternoon, Garza’s family met with state police for an update on the search. Despite the findings, they are holding out hope that Laura will be found alive.
"I Still Have Nightmares"
Mele, a convicted sex offender, is the last person to be soon with Garza. The two left a Chelsea nightclub together and drove to Mele’s Walkill home. Mele has not been charged in Garza’s disappearance, but is considered a person of interest. He is being held in jail on $100,000 bail on a probation charge.