Lily and David A. Yates of Bradenton, Fla., look at a photo Thursday of their son Thomas, who went missing Sunday morning. STAFF PHOTO/ROBERT BAKER
Thomas Yates places an angel atop his parents’ outdoor Christmas tree in Florida.
The dad and stepmom of the New York man who went missing last Sunday morning near Laceyville are looking for answers about why four days later he’s still not been found.
Thomas Christopher Yates, 43, of Bellmore, N.Y., was last seen around 3 a.m. Sunday wearing a dark suit on the Laceyville bridge that crosses the Susquehanna River.
David A. and Lily Yates of Bradenton, Fla., got a call later Sunday morning from Thomas’ older brother David Michael Yates, who was then at the state police barracks in Tunkhannock where he had just been charged with assaulting Thomas’ twin brother Richie.
“Dave said to me, ‘Pop, Tommy’s gone. He went over the bridge. He went over the edge.” the men’s dad said in a quivering tone Thursday afternoon.
The three men had been in Laceyville attending a funeral service Saturday night of the twins’ godmother, Diane Meislohn.
They went to a local home afterwards when, police said a heated argument arose and they were asked to leave.
Lily Yates said that Richie told them that Richie and Tommy were walking toward the bridge over the Susquehanna River at Laceyville when their older brother allegedly started pushing Richie around, splitting his nose and causing some teeth to be knocked out.
“When they looked back Tommy was gone,” Mrs. Yates said Thursday, fighting back tears.
The Goodwill Fire Company of Laceyville launched a dive rescue boat early Sunday morning and conducted a brief search which was called off because of a dangerous rain-swollen river.
Mrs. Yates said she was told they were going to resume the search Tuesday and on Tuesday, they were then told it would be Thursday.
“Now, we’re told it’s going to be on Saturday,” Mrs. Yates said. “It’s very difficult for us. They should be searching now, shouldn’t they?”
Wyoming County Chief Detective David Ide said Thursday he understood the family’s concern, “but the search is the call of the rescue team when it feels it can safely be conducted.”
Mr. Yates said he didn’t know what to think when his oldest son called Sunday, but knew he and his wife needed to be nearby until their son was found.
So, they drove 800 miles from Florida and Tuesday night Mr. Yates went to the state police barracks looking for answers.
He spoke to Tpr. John Youngblood who got a DNA sample from the father and asked about whether there was any bad blood between brothers or if Thomas might be suicidal.
Even though Thomas had cerebral palsy and walked with a pronounced limp, Mrs. Yates said he was a foreman of a job in which he seemed contented, and enjoyed his job.
The couple also said they were dumbfounded about the brothers fighting aggressively and Mrs. Yates said they didn’t believe it until they saw Richie’s two black eyes and 40 stitches he had received at Tunkhannock’s Tyler Memorial Hospital on Sunday.
On Thursday, the dad and Richie were out combing the banks of the Susquehanna River at Laceyville, Mehoopany and Tunkhannock thinking that he could have floated down river.
“He could be out in the ocean by now for all we know,” Mrs. Yates said.
“We’re just begging for everyone who might live along the river to please help us out so we can bring him home,” she said.
David M. Yates, 46, of Ronkonkoma, N.Y., was arraigned on $50,000 bail and because he was immediately unable to post it spent much of Sunday and Monday in the Wyoming County Correctional Facility on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment and harassment.
He was arraigned Monday, when Mrs. Yates said David M.’s girlfriend posted collateral for bail which allowed him to be released from jail.
A preliminary hearing scheduled for Thursday for David M. was continued until May 1 before Magisterial District Judge John Hovan.