High Speed Chase in Connecticut Linked to New Bedford Murder
A New Bedford man is being held on a million dollars bond in Connecticut after leading police on a high speed chase down 95 yesterday in a stolen car that may connect him to a murder. That car belonged to a man who'd been missing for five days and was found dead in a New Bedford home. That home, was owned by the man driving the stolen car. The missing man's girlfriend still doesn't know what happened.
30-year-old Sarah Varley started dating 36-year-old Michael Duarte when she was 16 years old. The couple has two young kids together. She reported her boyfriend missing after he went to look at a home for sale on Saturday morning and never came home.
“This guy Tom had the house for sale.”
Sarah Varley says she and her boyfriend Michael Duarte had been looking to buy a home and get married, when her life was torn apart, and she still doesn't know what happened.
“When I was done working and he still hadn't called I knew something wasn't right.”
Varley says Duarte looked at a home for sale in the North end of New Bedford on Saturday morning. The home is owned by 35-year-old Thomas Gardner who she'd only met once or twice. We looked into Gardner's past and found his ex-wife had a restraining order against him for domestic violence charges that he'd violated twice.
Varley says, “I knew that Mike knew him but I didn't know, he wasn't somebody that I thought Mike was like hanging around with you know he never came to my home.”
After hours of not hearing from Duarte, Varley went to the house herself, pounded on the doors yelling his name, his car was no where to be found. She reported him missing Saturday night.
Westport, Connecticut police spotted Duarte's stolen car Wednesday. After a high speed chase and a four hour manhunt, they found Gardner in the driver's seat. He was arrested and is being held on a million dollars bond in Connecticut.
Later that day, Police in Massachusetts found Duarte's body in Gardner's home. Varley is asking, if he was in the home, why didn't police find him earlier?
“Mike went missing on Saturday and on Sunday I had them walk through that house and they said there was nothing they missed. It's killing me not knowing because I feel like if he was, maybe there was a chance we could have saved him.”
The medical examiners office has confirmed Duarte was murdered, but so far Gardner has not been charged. While he is a suspect, right now Duarte's car is the only thing linking him to the murder. Gardner was supposed to appear in Connecticut court Thursday, but had a seizure, and will appear on Monday. Not on murder charges, but on a prior forgery charge from Massachusetts.
Duarte's cause of death has not been released.