Search continues for missing man

B y Jaime Thomas

Four days after a Fair Haven man went missing in Granville, extensive search efforts have yielded few results.

Jonathan Schaff, 23, was involved in an altercation at a West Main Street bar, during which a 50-year-old Granville resident allegedly sucker-punched him in the face and broke his glasses in the early hours of Saturday morning, a bartender told police.

A 33-year-old female and 26-year-old male then left the bar with Schaff and told him they would drive him to their residence to sleep and then bring him back to his car in the morning, according to police records. The female told police she and the man stopped “for a smoke and to make out” by the Granville Lions sign on East Main Street and Schaff continued walking east. The male told police a similar story, and the two said they lost sight of Schaff near the Vermont line.

They said they looked and called for him, but when they could not find him they assumed he had gone into a house. After speaking with the two on Sunday, police immediately checked the area on foot, looking on the road, in the river and in nearby abandoned houses for any signs of forced entry or unlocked doors.

On Sunday, police contacted Verizon, Schaff’s cellphone service provider, and found that his last known “ping” location was at the northwest side of the Newmont quarry pile in a wooded area just south of Sheldon Concrete’s main office around 6:45 a.m.

Police contacted Vermont State Police and local fire departments to begin searching. State Police K9 units checked the area but did not find anything, and police coordinated with fire chiefs to have teams check 8 to 10 feet from the edge of nearby roads.

Search efforts continued through Monday and again on Tuesday, when authorities looked for Schaff on foot and by a National Guard helicopter. On Tuesday, Schaff’s cellphone was located in an abandoned vehicle located at Loomis Trucking on State Route 149 in Vermont, an area where a number of abandoned cars and trucks are parked.

The area where the cellphone was found is the same location Schaff was walking when he disappeared, according to Vermont State Police.

At this point, police do not suspect anything amiss with the case.

“There is no indication or evidence of foul play for us to investigate,” Granville Police Chief Ernie Bassett said.

Vermont state police were asking residents in a 5-mile radius of the Vermont-New York border to check their properties and any out buildings.

Additionally, Granville police are asking area residents to check all outbuildings, under porches and throughout their properties for signs of anything unusual.

“We’re going to continue to work the investigative portion of it. We’re doing interviews and that kind of thing. We’re going to assess our search options at the end of the day,” Lieutenant Michael Manley, New Haven Station Commander, said late Tuesday. “We’ll continue to utilize all options.”

Vermont State Police were going to continue searching on a limited basis and were looking into sending dive teams into the local quarries. However, they had to wait for biting cold to rise as they will not send dive teams unless temperatures are above 15 degrees.

In addition to Granville and Vermont State Police, the Wells Fire Department, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department and the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team helped with the search, and the American Red Cross supplied meals for those involved.

The Vermont State Police Criminal Division continues to work with the Granville Police Department to follow up on leads. They are interested in speaking with anyone that had contact with the victim prior to and after he went missing on Saturday morning.

Anyone with any information can call Granville police at 518-642-1414 or Vermont State Police at 802-773-9101.

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