Newport Beach investigator Al Moreno was hired by actress Marsha Mason to find her friend, Gary DeVore.
By Christopher Goffard, Daily Pilot
NEWPORT BEACH – The search for Hollywood’s most famous missing person has been receiving some local help from Newport Beach private investigator Al Moreno, who recently returned from a week scouring the Mojave desert for signs of 55-year-old screenwriter Gary DeVore.
DeVore, whose film credits include “Running Scared,” “Raw Deal” and “Dogs of War,” disappeared June 28 as he was returning alone to his Carpenteria home from New Mexico in a white 1997 Ford Explorer.
His last contact with the world was a cellular phone conversation with his wife early that morning, when he told her he was leaving Barstow and would be home in a few hours.
Moreno, who taped a piece for “Inside Edition” on the case over the weekend, came aboard via actress Marsha Mason, former wife of screen writer/producer Neil Simon.
Part of the search involved flying a rented single-engine plane in “undulating grids” from Santa Clarita to Tehachapi, looking for the Ford or unusual gatherings of birds of prey, which might point to a body.
The search eliminated places DeVore might be, but turned up no signs of him. Moreno thinks there are 50-50 odds that he disappeared by foul play or made himself disappear for unknown reasons.
“He came up missing in the desert,” Moreno said. “Did he fall asleep and drive off the road? Was he somehow car jacked? The car he was driving is extremely popular in South America and the Far East – those things are spirited out of the country within 24 hours.”
The problem with the car-jacking scenario, Moreno said, is that DeVore was a “cowboy type” who was packing a .38 caliber revolver and, given a chance, would have put up a fight.
“If somebody’s going to take him down, they better have their stuff together,” Moreno said. “It’s going to be as tough taking him down as it would taking down a cop.”
A $100,000 reward has been offered for information leading to his recovery, and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department is working on the case.
The screenwriter’s publicist, Michael Sands, said he suspects a car jacking or robbery.
“You just don’t go poof into thin air,” Sands said. “I think he got bumped.”
Sands, the self-described “best publicist in the world,” said he has known DeVore for 20 years.
He said the writer was on the verge of his directorial debut and doubted he would intentionally disappear.
“It’s a Hollywood whodunit, but we don’t know who did it,” he said. “You like that one? Is that a great one?”