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Thread: Darryl Fornatora missing from the Dominican Republic since Jan 2016

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    Darryl Fornatora missing from the Dominican Republic since Jan 2016

    It?s been nearly two years since Darryl Fornatora disappeared during a surfing trip to the Dominican Republic, and authorities appear no closer to finding out what happened to the West Palm Beach resident than they did the day he vanished.

    For his family, frustration accompanies their grief. Not only has there been no trace of Fornatora, but there?s no certainty anybody ? not U.S. authorities, not Dominican Republic police ? is even looking for him.

    ?How does this happen that a citizen of the United States goes on a six-day vacation, disappears and nobody seems to give a damn?? said Gilbert Fornatora, Darryl?s 88-year-old father.

    Darryl Fornatora, who was director of the Lake Park Tennis Center at the time he went missing, flew with a friend to the Caribbean island on Jan. 25, 2016, for a surfing vacation in the northern coastal town of Cabarete.

    Fornatora was last seen two days later.

    Dominican authorities close Fornatora case, rule it a drowning

    Security officials with the U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo wrote to Gilbert and Nancy Fornatora of Ocean Ridge in April 2016 referring to an ?active criminal investigation? into their son?s disappearance and promising the embassy was ?working closely? with the Dominican government on the matter.

    But more than 20 months later, the probe appears to have produced few, if any, results. Whether the investigation is even active is anyone?s guess.

    Fornatora?s family says it?s had no communication in nearly a year with the U.S. embassy. Robin Bernstein, a Palm Beach-based insurance agent and a charter member of the Mar-a-Lago club who was President Trump?s controversial pick to be U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic, has yet to receive a confirmation hearing.

    Private investigators hired by the family provided clues and promising leads, but no resolution. A $25,000 reward for information leading to Fornatora has gone unclaimed.

    The family is under no illusion that Fornatora, who would be 47, is still alive.

    ?There are dozens of possible scenarios, and all of them end violently,? said Christina Hendrex, Darryl?s sister. ?I think that my brother was murdered. No doubt in my mind. The why, I?m not sure of.?

    Hendrex and her parents say the one person who might know is Matthew Rigby, the friend who accompanied Fornatora to the Dominican Republic. They haven?t spoken since a meeting shortly after Darryl disappeared and Rigby returned to Palm Beach County without their brother and son, and they say his recollections about what happened only left them with questions.

    Multiple attempts by The Post to reach Rigby, a harbor pilot at the Port of Palm Beach, since Fornatora vanished have been unsuccessful.

    The surfing trip was supposed to last until Jan. 31, but Rigby cut his visit short and returned to Florida on Jan. 28. The Fornatoras and Hendrex say Rigby said he did so because the waves around Cabarete were ?flat? ? but followed that by saying Fornatora had remained behind to do more surfing.

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    The story of Fornatora’s disappearance is a strange one, and one that, according to his family, has changed several times. The missing man checked into his accommodations in Cabaret on January 25th, along with his friend and travel partner Matt Rigby. He went for a surf, then texted his mother to tell her he’d arrived safely. Then she never heard from him again. From there, the story gets stranger. Although the pair was scheduled to fly home together on January 31st, Rigby changed his flight, returning to Florida on Jan. 28th, along with Fornatora’s computer and surfboard. The next day, he called Mrs. Fornatora and told her that he hadn’t had any contact since Jan. 27th. The details, though, have changed more than once.

    The family told Fox News “at one point he claimed that there was no surf and decided to travel home and that Fornatura stayed behind. Then he claimed Fornatora got upset one night as they headed into town and when he looked away from Fornatora for a split second, Fornatora was gone.”

    Then, three months after he disappeared, Fornatora’s wallet was found by a local diver in Cabarete. In it, there was his credit cards, a driver’s license, and hundreds of dollars in cash, reportedly with burn marks.

    A $25,000 reward was offered for any information. Although initially, Rigby stated he would tell authorities what he knew, according to WPTV, when they traveled to Palm Beach to question him, he clammed up, canceled the interview via text, and hired an attorney.

    “It leaves big question marks,” said Mrs. Fornatora, “about why he would tell us in early March that he was willing to talk to investigators and tell them anything that he knew… and now when they’re here, all of a sudden he doesn’t. It just leaves a big question in my mind.”

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    The family of a Florida surfer who vanished in the Dominican Republic three years ago hopes the recent spate of mysterious incidents out of the country might draw renewed interest in his case.

    Since he vanished without a trace, Darryl Fornatora’s family has received limited information regarding his Jan. 27, 2016, disappearance while on a week-long surfing trip to the Caribbean island, the Palm Beach Post reported.

    “I don’t know quite honestly when we get answers, because I’m determined that we will, that that pain will ever go away,” his mother Nancy Fornatora said. “But we want the answers regardless.”

    They know the then-45-year-old surfer landed on Jan. 25, 2016, then checked into a villa with a friend, Matthew Rigby, in the coastal town of Caberete.

    For five hours, the pair went surfing. Then Fornatora texted his mother to let her know he was out of the water.

    “They had surfed for hours that day. It was epic,” his sister, Christina Hendrex, told Fox News at the time. “He was tired. He told my mom, ‘I love you,’”

    Darryl and Rigby were set to fly home together on Jan. 31 but the pal cut his trip short three days early.

    The day after returning home, Rigby called Darryl’s parents and said he hadn’t heard from the surfer since Jan. 27, according to the family.

    “[Rigby] didn’t contact the embassy or police, which I don’t understand,” Hendrex said. “He also took some of Darryl’s things back with him, like his surfboard and his computer.”

    Divers, helicopters and planes searched the coast looking for the missing surfer and ruled out drowning since he was an experienced swimmer, according to the Palm Beach Post. His body was never found.

    In 2017, the Fornatoras said they haven’t spoken to Rigby since shortly after the disappearance, and his account only left them with more questions.

    He claimed he left because the waves were “flat” — but that Darryl stayed behind to surf more.

    “I feel this is a giant jigsaw puzzle and we have all the border pieces — the outline is there — but we’re missing all the pieces that make the picture come together — and Matt holds all of them,” Hendrex told the Palm Beach Post.

    The family hopes the recent incidents in the country, including at least seven Americans dying under mysterious circumstances at resorts, will put pressure on authorities to investigate Darryl’s disappearance — and finally bring them closure.

    “It seems that there are so many of them right now that focus is on the Dominican Republic,” Nancy Fornatora said. “It’s in their best interests to solve the situations. And that they should want to.”

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