Local News

Search on for Missing Man, 2 People of Interest

Posted January 25, 2008 10:59 p.m. EST
Updated January 26, 2008 11:06 p.m. EST

— The search for a missing person continued in Johnston County as authorities named two people of interest in the case.

Authorities said Friday they believe Socrates Taboada Gomez, 26, and Wilmer Alexis-Cruz Alvarado, 22, were with Martin Garza, 43, of Wilmington, before he disappeared.

Deputies from Duplin, Sampson and Johnston counties conducted a joint search for more than five hours Friday afternoon. The search spanned a stretch of Interstate 40 from U.S. Highway 117 to U.S. Highway 210 in Johnston County.

All-terrain vehicles supplemented the search on foot, and Wilmington police loaned a helicopter to searchers.

On Tuesday morning, deputies found a black GMC Denali registered to Garza at Ron's Custom Cars near Interstate 40 and N.C. 210 near Smithfield. The truck had a window broken out, and its interior was covered with blood.

Investigators identified two people of interest from surveillance video from the dealership.

Garza was last seen Monday in Duplin County at a Wal-Mart in the Wallace area. Investigators believe the two persons of interest were also at the Wal-Mart on Monday.

The investigation was being conducted by the state Bureau of Investigation, Wilmington and Wallace police departments and sheriff's offices in Duplin, Johnston and Sampson counties.

Anyone with information that could help authorities is asked to call the Johnston County Sheriff's Office at 919-989-5010 or the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office at 910-296-2150.