‘BLOODY SUV’ IN CLUB-GAL HUNT – Laura Garza case update 4/26/2010
Posted by tothewire on December 8, 2008
Cops hunting for an aspiring fashionista who disappeared from a Manhattan nightclub towed a bloodstained SUV from their prime suspect’s upstate family home yesterday – hours after the sexual deviant called a pal begging him not to speak to police, sources said.
Investigators combed through lakes and a wooded area while conducting aerial searches near Michael Mele’s Middletown house in a desperate search for Laura Garza, 25.
Her case is being treated as a homicide, but state police “haven’t given up hope she is alive,” a spokesman said.
The Texas beauty’s family is holding out hope against the odds.
“We have faith that they will bring Laura home,” Isela de las Lobos, told the Post of her cousin, who moved from her home town of Mission, Tx. to Brooklyn in July to pursue a fashion career.
“We feel she’s not gone. We’re praying for her safety.”
Investigators seized the bloody black Lexus from Mele’s parents’ driveway in Newburgh at 3 a.m. yesterdayafter the convicted sex offender surrendered to police in Orange County.
Last night, he was being held in the Rockland County jail on an unrelated probation violation stemming from a 2007 forcible touching arrest. That probation included a curfew.
Mele, who was spotted dancing with Garza at Marquee in Chelsea last week, was one of two men seen on tape leaving the club with her at 4 a.m. Wednesday. She was last seen with Mele in Newburgh later that morning, state police said.
Cops said Mele, 23, drove Garza – who works at Baker’s shoe store in Manhattan -and his pal upstate, dropping off the friend on the way.
“The friend said they had been drinking, but Garza was fine when he left,” a police source said.
“He said Mele and Garza had been making out in the club. Mele had said to his friend that he wanted to have sex with her, and they all left the club.
“On Friday, Mele called the other guy and said if the cops call, don’t say anything,” the source said.
Cops also said they found a piece of carpet mysteriously cut out in Mele’s apartment, where more blood was found. Mele’s superintendent, Ron Ciofala, 36, said the suspect asked him to fix the carpet at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
“His reason was he spilled bleach on the rug,” Ciofala said, adding that his father had inspected the apartment Thursday and found nothing wrong with the carpet.
Just before 6 p.m. Friday, Ciofala spotted an anxious Mele – dressed to the nines – rummaging through a Dumpster at the building.
“I asked him if he needed a hand, and he said, ‘No I’ll do it myself,’ ” Ciofala added.
Cops were searching the Dumpster yesterday.
Also, neighbors said landscapers working on the property discovered a knife, which they turned over to police.
Mele has several arrests, most recently in Rockland County for performing a lewd act in front of shoppers on four different occasions at the Palisades Mall, police said. He was listed as a Level-1 sex offender – the least serious level – in April 2007.
Mele turned himself in to Newburgh police Friday night, accompanied by his lawyer and his dad, and was initially held on an outstanding traffic violation in the city, sources said.
He was then transferred from a Brooklyn precinct yesterday to Rockland County on the probation rap. Newburgh police said that “contrary to earlier reports, Mele was not spoken to at any length regarding the missing woman,” according to a statement.
Mele, who owns a Quiznos sandwich-shop franchise in Middletown, is known to be wealthy. His father, William, is a former assistant deputy police chief with the MTA.
Garza, a Mexican native who came to America with her mom and two brothers when she was 12, is “an outgoing, independent woman,” de las Lobos told the Post. “She just loved to dance.”
Her cousin also said it was impossible that Garza, would have left the club voluntarily with the two men.
“She knew how to handle herself; she knew how to drink responsibly,” her relative said. “She knew not to take drinks from anyone.”
By CAREY CARDWELL in Mission, Texas and LARRY CELONA and MATTHEW NESTEL in NY
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April 26, 2010 New York Times
Rest in Peace, Laura…