Family pleads for info on missing mom
Just more than a year ago Mary Ann Zarb said a final goodbye to her husband who had battled lung cancer for six years.
She hadn’t work for the past several years, instead taking care of family patriarch George “Ed” Zarb who was an Air Force veteran who had retired from Ford Motor Company.
The couple moved to Florida, living for a time in Palm Beach Gardens and Vero Beach where Ed Zarb died on Feb. 28, 2010, according to his obituary.
About four months ago Mary Ann Zarb, 64, decided to move to a small community, The Villages of Country Creek in Estero, and was making friends, her family said Tuesday afternoon during a press conference at the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. Her house was in the 20000 block of Country Club Drive.
She is a warm, caring person, they say.
But she’s not been seen nor heard from since April 11, which is highly uncharacteristic of the woman who spoke to her children daily and doted on her dog who was left behind, her family and investigators say.
Zarb’s son, Ed Zarb, of Knoxville, Tenn., last spoke to his mother April 10. Everything was fine. She was looking forward to his upcoming visit in May with some of her grandchildren.
Son Greg Lewis, who lives in the suburbs of Dearborn, Mich., talked to his mom the day before and they discussed a fifth-grade camping trip.
Now her family is offering a $5,000 reward through Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers to anyone who will come forward with information leading to their mother’s whereabouts.
On Tuesday, Zarb’s daughter Julie Temperly who lives in the Dubuque, Iowa, area, flanked by Ed Zarb and Greg Lewis in addition to Zarb’s daughters-in-law, made a tearful plea for someone to come forward to give information about their mother. They want her back.
“She loved all four of her sons and me, her daughter,” Temperly said. But she lived for her eight grandchildren. Please help us find our mom. Our family just wants our mom back.”
She described getting off the plane in Fort Myers, knowing her mother wouldn’t be there to meet her. Everyone looked like Zarb, Temperly said.
Investigators want people who live in Estero and Cape Coral to remember back over the last week to 10 days and report anything they may have seen, no matter how minor it may seem. It might lead them to find Zarb. They also are being tight-lipped about the investigation, releasing little information.
Her two daughters-in-law, Sharon Montanero and Dana Zarb, also attended the press conference. Two other sons, Doug Zarb who lives near Los Angeles, and Jeff Zarb of Portland, Ore., plan on coming to Florida soon.
Temperly said she’ll stay in the area until her mom is found.
“It’s like a nightmare we never woke up from,” Temperly said, choking back tears. Her brother, Ed Zarb, put an arm on her back to comfort her, but was visibly shaken himself.
Lee County Sheriff’s Office investigators found four people at her house on Friday, the day deputies were asked to check on Zarb. When deputies first went to her home a rear door was unlocked and they checked inside. No one was there.
Later that day, a deputy drove by the house and saw Zarb’s car, a white Ford Escape in the driveway. He reportedly saw a man inside snorting something white from a table.
Meantime her son, Greg Lewis, told investigators a contractor, Shane Simpkin,s should be at the home, according to a heavily redacted call for service printout from the Sheriff’s Office.
The four were arrested and deputies impounded Zarb’s car.
Shane Steven Simpkins, 24, of the 2000 block of Northeast 34th Terrace, Cape Coral, the one who was allegedly seen snorting a substance, was charged with possession of cocaine.
Three others also were arrested: Tiffany Marie Sipp, 17, on drug charges, Stephen Patrick Smutney, 19, for resisting arrest, and Nicole Rae Durden, 18, of the 7500 block of Suncoast Drive in North Fort Myers, on paraphernalia charges. Sipp and Smutney list the same address as Simpkins.
Her dog is now being cared for by a family friend.
Ed Zarb says his mother was a real estate agent but hadn’t worked in quite a while because of his father’s illness.
When asked what her hobbies were, he said: “Walking her dog.”
He reminds people his mother was very healthy and active. Her disappearance is troubling.
“We don’t have any reason to believe she’s anywhere but here,” he said.
Zarb is described as a white female with blondish red hair and blue eyes. She is 5-feet-4 inches tall and weighs 170 pounds. Authorities are asking anyone with information on Zarb’s whereabouts to call the Lee County Sheriff’s Office at (239) 477-1000 or, to remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477).
– Reprinted with permission of the Naples Daily News.