Police search home of man eyed in disappearance

Posted: Updated:

Wearing white, head-to-toe coveralls, New York State police on Monday searched the Middletown apartment of the man last seen with a Brooklyn woman before she went missing.

Michael Mele, 23, of Middletown, was reportedly caught on surveillance video leaving a Manhattan club with Laura Garza, 25, at around 4 a.m. last Wednesday after she came out of the Marquee nightclub in Chelsea.

Mele is being held in a Rockland County jail for allegedly violating his probation by drinking alcohol. The registered sex offender was convicted in 2007 for masturbating on women at the Palisades Center Mall.

Officials believe Mele could be involved in Garza's disappearance. Mele reportedly had bite marks on his hand and scratch marks on his neck when he turned himself in to authorities.

Mele's neighbors say they heard him vacuuming and saw him near the dumpster before police arrived at his apartment. State police have removed barrels of evidence from Mele's home and his parents' home. According to police, a shoe and an item resembling women's underwear have been found.

No charges in Garza's disappearance have been filed.

Mele is being held on $50,000 bail. Rockland County Police Detective Lt. William Barbera says Mele's attorney will likely advise the family on whether to post bail or not. According to Barbera, if Mele is free on bail he could be picked up by state police for questioning in the Garza case.

Mele is due back in court Dec. 22.

Police question OC man in case of missing woman

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