Within four months of each other, two men vanished into thin air. Both disappearances happened in Naples, Fla. Both men were last seen with the same sheriff’s deputy. No one knows what happened to either man.
Movie and television mogul Tyler Perry wants some answers.
USA Today reports that Perry and attorney Benjamin Crump announced a lawsuit against former Deputy Steve Caulkins, the man last seen with 27-year-old Terrance Williams when he disappeared in 2004. Perry also doubled his initial offer from $100,000 to $200,000 for any information leading to Williams’ location or the location of Felipe Santos, who also disappeared after an alleged encounter with Caulkins.
On January 12, 2004, Williams left a party with his Pizza Hut co-workers and was never seen again.
After being missing for a few days, Williams’ aunt tracked down his car at a towing company. The towing company told Williams’ family that the car was called in by Deputy Caulkins, who initially told dispatchers that he found the car abandoned in a cemetery, CNN reports.
But cemetery workers said they witnessed Caulkins arrest Williams. And dispatchers ran a background check on Williams using Williams’ name and birthdate, even though the car wasn’t registered in his name.
Then he told investigators that he doesn’t remember coming into contact with Williams. Then Caulkins changed his story to say he pulled Williams over because he noticed Williams was having car trouble and offered him a ride to the Circle K, a nearby convenience store.
The “dropped him off at the gas station” is the same story Caulkins offered after the disappearance of 24-year-old Felipe Santos on October 1, 2003. Witnesses say Caulkins issued a citation to Santos after a minor traffic accident and put him in the patrol car.
Witnesses and family members assumed Santos was in jail for driving without a license or insurance. Witnesses say that Caulkins’ seemed agitated because Santos was undocumented, but Santos filled out an incident report two weeks later claiming he decided to let Santos go, so he dropped him off at a Circle K.
Caulkins was eventually fired from the Collier County Sheriff’s Department for giving inconsistent testimony, but no one has ever found the missing men last seen with Caulkins.
Perry and Crump’s lawsuit alleges that Caulkin is responsible for Santos’ and Williams’ death. Families and attorneys often use lawsuits to gain access to records and information via subpoena that wouldn’t ordinarily be available or public.