DANA POINT – The family and friends of an Orange County woman missing in Panama are holding a march and candlelight vigil Saturday evening at Salt Creek Beach Park.
In September, Yvonne Baldelli, 42, moved with her boyfriend Brian Brimager, 36, to Carenero Island, one of a group of islands that make up the archipelago province of Bocas del Toro on Panama’s Caribbean coast.
Baldelli had recently been laid off from her job with Sebastian International and Brimager’s Marine Corps service was coming to an end. The two wanted to live together on the beach, said Lauren Beyer, Baldelli’s niece, something that is cheaper to do in Panama than in Orange County.
The couple rented an apartment, and Brimager played the guitar in bars for tips, according to news reports. Baldelli, according to her family, has a passion for sewing and an eye for fashion and hoped to sell her work on local beaches. Baldelli also acted as a manager of sorts for Brimager, getting him gigs at local spots, Beyer said.
Witnesses at the place where Baldelli and Brimager were staying, known locally as Casa del Sapo, reported the couple had a violent relationship and frequently fought, according to Alexis Muñoz, director of the Panama Department of Judicial Investigation.
Beyer said her aunt frequently called or emailed family members. Her last correspondence came in late November, Beyer said. She was last seen on Carenero Island on Nov. 26.
According to news reports, Brimager told acquaintances Baldelli had gone to Costa Rica with another man, and he planned to return to Southern California. He was back in the United States by mid-December. There is no record of Baldelli leaving Panama, according to news reports.
Baldelli’s family has been in Panama searching for her, and Panamanian and U.S. authorities have conducted multiple searches of the island. In the months since the search began, the FBI has joined the investigation, assisting Panamanian authorities in looking for trace evidence at the home where Baldelli and Brimager stayed.
Within a few days of returning to the United States, Brimager became engaged to and then married another woman, according to news reports.
An Amazon.com wedding registry entry for a Kristin M. Werkhoven and Brian Brimager states the two met in Washington, D.C., at a karaoke bar in 2004 and had a daughter in 2010. Here is an excerpt from the entry, which has since been deleted:
“Brian got out of the Marine Corps in November 2011 and went on a vacation to Panama to detox from the Marine Corps. Now Brian is a professional father during the day and a professional student at night. We were engaged on 15 December and on 31 December we had a civil ceremony to legalize our marriage. We look forward to seeing many of you at our wedding on the 4th of July in Cabo San Lucas!”
Panamanian police have named Brimager a person of interest in the case, and in mid-May declared it a homicide investigation.
Saturday’s vigil and march is to increase awareness about Baldelli’s disappearance, Beyer said. Salt Creek was selected because it was a cherished place for Baldelli, she said.
“The investigators think that she’s gone,” Beyer said. “And I don’t think that they believe it was an accident. We want to find out what happened to her. We want to find out where she is. … We want to bring her home.” Please visit Information: FindYvonneBaldelli.com for more information on the case.
News source OCRegister