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Deputies search for missing former officer, private investigator

Family, friends say they haven't spoken to Steve Paoletti in days

EDGEWATER, Fla. – The Volusia County Sheriff's Office is searching for a former police officer and current private investigator who had problems with his landlord before his disappearance.

Deputies said a friend of Stephen "Steve" Paoletti called them to report him missing. The friend told them that she speaks with Paoletti on a daily basis and on May 30 the communication between them ceased.

"I just want him home. I just want him found safe," Connie Paoletti, his mother, said.

Paoletti had posted a Craigslist ad to barter his service in lieu of paying rent.

He started working for an Edgewater woman eight months prior. Law enforcement officers were called to the place where he resides on May 24.

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Paoletti was staying in a barn in a home on Hideaway Lane in Edgewater, but after Hurricane Matthew, he had to move into the landlord’s home. After the storm, there was an incident between Paoletti and his landlord, and deputies were called the to property, according to the report. 

"There's a pending civil litigation between Steve and his landlord. There was a dispute," Rick Raymond, a private investigator hired by the Paoletti family, said. "I don't really know the specific details. Just a landlord-tenant dispute." 

Paoletti’s parents told deputies that they tried to call him and his phone goes straight to voicemail. They also advised deputies that he was diagnosed with ADHD and takes medication, but they do not believe that he poses harm to himself or others.

Deputies visited the home on June 1 and informed the landlord to contact law enforcement officials if Paoletti returned. The landlord did not, the report said.

Deputies went to the camper in which Paoletti was staying and knocked on the door and no one answered.

Upon looking around the camper and into Paoletti’s vehicle, which was still on the property, they saw "no foul odors or odor associated with decomposition emanating from the camper, vehicle or immediate area," the report said. 

Volusia County deputies were at Paoletti's home again on Friday. Investigators at the scene said they were on a "fact-finding mission," calling it unusual that he has been missing for so long.

"I know that they are doing all that they can to help find him," Connie Paoletti said. 

His family has hired a private investigator and is offering a $5,000 reward for any information that leads to the location of Paoletti.

The Sheriff's Office told News 6 at this time there are no signs indicating foul play or anything suggesting Paoletti is in danger, but his family fears the worst.

"We believe that there is foul play suspected. That is our opinion and the family's opinion," Raymond said.

Paoletti's family said he worked for six years in law enforcement with the Clermont and Lake Mary police departments, and then got his private investigator's license.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.