Nearly six months after the disappearance of a Cape Coral man, police say they’re still investigating.
Cape Coral police say Barry Schmalbach disappeared on July 20 and suspect foul play. He was 56 at the time and has since had a birthday.
“This is still an active and ongoing investigation,” Officer Mercedes Phillips wrote in a statement sent to The News-Press this week. “We are still collecting details about the case that we are unable to discuss at this time.”
Phillips said further updates are to come.
Chief Anthony Sizemore said Aug. 4 the Schmalbach’s disappearance was “suspicious in nature.”
He said they had a person of interest in custody, but didn’t provide his identity or any possible charges he might face. He said at the time that person of interest was being helpful, but added that he had not always been so.
It’s unclear if the person of interest is still in custody.
Schmalbach’s family and friends haven’t heard from or seen him since the evening of July 19.
Sizemore had said Schmalbach’s boyfriend, Christopher Davis, 35, called police July 22, to report the disappearance. He also said one call prompted police suspicion.
The chief said the reporting party didn’t give any indication that it was unusual or an exigent situation.
Sizemore previously said that, given the “deceptive nature” of the call in question, authorities suspected foul play. He said that they’ve executed several search warrants for physical and digital evidence.
He had previously said the search for Schmalbach covers several counties, but wouldn’t disclose the areas.
While they investigated Schmalbach’s disappearance, Sizemore said they discovered a warrant for Davis’ arrest. Cape Coral Police arrested him in front of Esporta Gym, 2301 Del Prado Blvd. S., on the active warrant out of Columbia, South Carolina, for a probation violation dated July 11, 2018.
The violation is related to a 2013 conviction on one county of grand larceny and two counts of credit card fraud, said Anita Dantzler, spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.
He was taken into custody Aug. 1. Lee County Jail records indicate Davis was extradited Aug. 10.
Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers had announced a reward of $3,000 for any tips that could lead to Schmalbach or making an arrest in the case. They raised the reward amount to $16,000.
Trish Routte, spokesperson for Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers, previously told The News-Press that the $13,000 increase in the reward from their typical $3,000 comes from “people who are close to Barry.”
Schmalbach’s sister, Emily Scaletta, who lives in Chicago, told The News-Press that Schmalbach had lived in Naples before he moved to Cape Coral.
She and one of Schmalbach’s close friends, Miguel Blanco, passed flyers out to local businesses in August.
The News-Press couldn’t immediately reach Scaletta or Blanco for comment on Saturday morning.
Marco Patriots Disaster Response, a volunteer civilian assistance group to those in need during natural disasters and other emergencies, has also assisted in searching for Schmalbach in the Cape Coral waterways.
Schmalbach is described as a 6’3″ white male who weighs 200 pounds and has balding blonde hair and blue eyes. His last known location was around the 1800 block of Beach Parkway, in Cape Coral, around 11 p.m. July 20.
Detectives with the Cape Coral major crime unit have asked residents and visitors with any tips on Schmalbach’s whereabouts to contact them at 239-574-3223 or submit a tip to CCPDtips@Cape Coral.gov or Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at (800) 780-8477.
Tomas Rodriguez is a Breaking/Live News Reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. You can reach Tomas at TRodriguez@gannett.com or 772-333-5501. Connect with him on Threads @tomasfrobeltran, Instagram @tomasfrobeltran and Facebook @tomasrodrigueznews.