COLUMBIA, S.C – Authorities say an accountant who killed himself after a Hilton Head Island couple vanished bought three large heavyweight drop cloths the day they were last seen.
Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner said Wednesday the investigation into the disappearance of John and Elizabeth Calvert, who also own a home in Atlanta, is still active.
An accountant who kept the Calverts' books, Dennis Gerwing, met with them March 3, when they were last seen.
Gerwing, 54, bought the 9-by-12 foot drop cloths and a box of latex gloves that afternoon, Tanner said. Neither the cloths nor gloves have been found in searches of his business, home or vehicles.
An employer said Gerwing had embezzled $2.1 million from the couple and seven other companies.
Tanner said circumstantial evidence in the Calvert case points to the accountant.
"It appears that Dennis is responsible for their disappearance," he told reporters, adding that chances the couple are "alive and well" were slim.
Still, there wasn't enough to re-classify the missing persons case as something more, according to the sheriff.
"There is no evidence of a homicide at this time," Tanner said. "These two people are still missing."
Gerwing committed suicide March 11 after police questioned him about the disappearance of the Calverts, who lived part-time on a yacht on the resort island. Searches of Hilton Head, its harbor and in Georgia have been fruitless.
Police have said Gerwing was the last person to see the couple together.
Gerwing stole from eight of The Club Group's 10 Hilton Head Island clients by using wire transfers, checks and other transactions that mixed investment money with his personal funds.
The Calverts manage a marina and 125 rental units on Hilton Head Island. The Club Group kept the books for the Calverts' business holdings on the island.
The couple decided in December to take their business away from the firm and manage it themselves. Gerwing was working out the details when Calverts vanished.