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Suspect in Florida firefighter's killing owed him $3,000, police say

  • This photo provided by the Seminole County Fire Department shows firefighter Jerry Perdomo of Orange City, Fla. Maine State Police suspect some kind of crime connected to the disappearance of Perdomo, who has been missing since Feb. 16, and they want to talk more with a Bangor man as the investigation intensifies.AP/Seminole County Fire Dept

  • In this Tuesday, Feb. 28 photo provided by the Waldo County Sheriff Department, State police say they charged 24-year-old Daniel Porter, pictured here at the Waldo County Jail, in the death of Jerry Perdomo of Seminole County, Florida, who has been missing since Feb. 16.AP/Waldo County Sheriff Dept

A Maine man accused of killing a Florida firefighter owed $3,000 to the victim in what police suspect was a drug dispute gone bad, court records show.

Daniel Porter, 24, is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Thursday in Belfast, Maine, to face a murder charge. He told police the firefighter, Jerry Perdomo, threatened him and his family during a game of pool, according to an arrest warrant.

Perdomo, a 31-year-old married father of two, disappeared in Maine on Feb. 16. A police investigation began three days later, after a woman described as Perdomo's girlfriend told police in Bangor that she last saw him with a handgun and that he told her he was going to meet someone who owed him money.

Maine State Police said they found Perdomo's body Wednesday after a search with police dogs on property owned by Porter's relatives in woods in rural Newburgh. The Maine medical examiner identified the body as Perdomo's, but investigators did not say how he died. An autopsy will not begin until Friday at the earliest.

Police on Tuesday charged Porter with murdering Perdomo. Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Public Safety Department, said authorities think Perdomo was killed in a drug dispute.

Porter was arrested at a relative's house where crime scene technicians found evidence of blood and what appears to be a piece of skull or bone, sources told Fox News.  There were new carpets on the floor covering an area that tested presumptive positive for blood, sources said..

In addition to being a Florida firefighter and EMT, Perdomo served in combat in Iraq as a Marine. Upon release, he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and took prescription pills for neck, back and knee injuries.

A friend of Perdomo's told ABC affiliate WFTV that Perdomo traveled 1,600 miles to Bangor to sell prescription pills, and that he'd mentioned someone named "Daniel" previously. But Perdomo's family says the firefighter had never been involved with drugs, and his wife said she believes he went to Maine to see another woman.

"I love him. He is my only love, he is my only love," Tonya Perdomo said at a news conference Monday.  "I just want to talk to him. I just feel like I need to talk to him. I do."

Porter, 24, was arrested at a home rented by his father in Jackson, a small, rural town in central Maine. 

Perdomo's brother-in-law, Chris Lerch, said relatives are devastated.

"All we know now is we just need to bring Jerry home and heal as a family," Lerch told the Orlando Sentinel from Bangor, where he has been helping distribute fliers seeking clues in Perdomo's disappearance.

Porter had been identified earlier as a person of interest in the case as some of Perdomo's friends put up posters around the Bangor area hoping for his return. Perdomo was a firefighter for Seminole County, Fla.

A car Perdomo had rented was found in the parking lot of a Bangor Wal-Mart. Police also seized a car that had been owned by Porter and was left behind at a dealership in Oakland, about 70 miles south of Bangor, and a new car bought by Porter and his 25-year-old girlfriend, Cheyanne Nowak. The girlfriend was not charged in the case.

"We believe Porter is the one responsible for Perdomo's death," McCausland said.

In an interview Monday, Tonya Perdomo described her husband, the father of two children ages 3 and 10, as a dedicated man who "helped people a lot."

Fox News' Steve Harrigan and The Associated Press contributed to this report