May 11, 2013

'When is it our turn? When is it my turn?'

A Maine family is happy for relatives of women found in Cleveland. But they await word of their missing son.

By David Hench
Staff Writer

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Ramona Torres of Denmark holds a photo of her son who disappeared 14 years ago, as she stands by the garden she made as a memorial to his life. “I go there and I talk to him when something happens to us,” she said.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

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Angel “Tony” Torres was last seen by his parents on Mother’s Day in 1999. Now they hope for information to give them peace.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below


Anyone with information about the disappearance of Angel Torres is asked to call Maine State Police at 800-228-0857.

The girlfriend told his parents that he had gone to Maine to buy stereo equipment for the new apartment. When he didn't return right away, she thought maybe he had gotten cold feet about moving in with her. She didn't think to call his parents.

They called police.

The Oxford County Sheriff's Office determined the disappearance was unusual for a young man who normally called home regularly. He had missed the start of his summer job at the same restaurant where his girlfriend worked.

The case was passed on to the Maine State Police, who handle most of the state's homicide cases. Lt. Walter Grzyb was a detective at the time.

"We were trying to identify everybody he knew," Grzyb said. "What we determined was the last place he was seen was basically Biddeford."

Police said one witness saw him dropped at a Biddeford store at 2 a.m., and another saw him getting into a pickup. That was May 21, 1999. Police suspected he was heading north to the North Conway area.

His family put up posters around the city. They also confronted the possibility their son was involved in buying or selling drugs.

"We have been pretty open that drugs were related to his disappearance," Grzyb said.

It was actually Tony's parents who wanted that known, he said.

"They didn't want everyone to think it was some kind of secret so people wouldn't come forward" for fear of divulging that detail, he said. "Their priority is finding Angel. More than anything in the world that's what they want."

Grzyb lives in the same area as the Torreses. They see other frequently and Grzyb stops by to visit, especially around this time of year.

"They're just very nice, decent people," Grzyb said. I think it's important they know the case isn't forgotten. ... It frustrates them. It frustrates me."

Police have made progress and are hoping new attention will turn up new leads, said Lt. Brian McDonough, head of the state police major crimes division in southern Maine. The case has been assigned to a new investigator who will develop a new investigative plan.

"We have a couple people we're interested in that probably have a little more information than they were originally forthcoming with," McDonough said. "We're in the process of following up with them again."

McDonough called it a challenging case. "Obviously, we suspect foul play," he said. "We don't have any crime scene. If he was a victim of foul play and he was murdered, we don't have anybody."

In the months after Tony disappeared, his family offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to his recovery.

Now they hope that time will have changed people, made them more willing to help.

"We know someone in that area knows what happened," Ramona said. "Maybe they were 21-year-olds at the time, maybe by now they're 35 years old. They can understand, put themselves in my place. If they have a child of their own right now, maybe then they can say something."

For now the family has a memorial garden in the front yard, with a basketball and a picture of Tony. It is dappled with daffodils. In time, they will give way to tulips, irises, pansies, roses and bleeding hearts.

"I go there and I talk to him when something happens to us," Ramona said. When his younger brother Jamel graduated, first from high school, then college, and then when he got his master's degree, she shared it with Tony in the garden, near a large tree and boulder he climbed on as a young child.

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Additional Photos

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Sports balls are laid upon a bench in the garden made by Ramona Torres of Denmark, dedicated to her son Angel “Tony” Torres, who disappeared 14 years ago.

Gordon Chibroski / Staff Photographer


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