Friend of missing man feared dead: 'I'm just heartbroken'

 

The search for a missing Staten Island man led members of the New York Police Department to a landfill in Berks County.

The NYPD confirmed its detectives have been searching the Conestoga Landfill in New Morgan for any signs of Michael Stewart.

Crews were there Monday, but heavy fog Tuesday forced the search to be postponed. At this point, police are saying their investigation is of a possible homicide.

The NYPD said Michael Stewart, 40, was last seen at a bar and barber shop in Staten Island on December 20.

"We are preparing for the worst, but at this point in time, it remains an active, a missing case that potentially could turn into a homicide investigation," said Dermot Shea, the NYPD's chief of detectives.

WABC-TV in New York City reported police were tipped off that Stewart's remains may have been placed in a dumpster. When officers went to check out the tip, they found that the dumpster had already been emptied.

Now, investigators are working to track down the contents of the dumpster and where they were dumped.

"We are actively working the case," said Shea.

In the last few weeks, the search has taken police to multiple places, including the Conestoga Landfill. NYPD crews searched with heavy equipment and cadaver dogs, and they said they could return to the landfill.

"I'm just heartbroken," said Stewart's friend, Angelo Maldonado.

Maldonado said he met Stewart 30 years ago in Brooklyn. He lives in the Lehigh Valley now, and said he's shocked to learn a childhood friend has gone missing.

"When I think about it, I think about his mother and what she must be going through, and I remember her vividly growing up. What his brother is going through," said Maldonado.

Maldonado said while many may fear the worst, he's holding out hope.

"Most people will say he's probably dead," he said. "We are just choosing to believe the opposite until we hear otherwise."