May 2, 2018

Contributed
Paul Murray, who will be 50 years old this July, loves celebrating birthdays his mother said, and, especially his own. Paul has been missing since July 9, 2016 from Robbie's Marina on Stock Island and his family is desperate to find him.

Contributed Paul Murray, who will be 50 years old this July, loves celebrating birthdays his mother said, and, especially his own. Paul has been missing since July 9, 2016 from Robbie's Marina on Stock Island and his family is desperate to find him.

MARATHON — The family of a Boot Key Harbor man missing for almost two years remains hopeful that someone in the Florida Keys has information that may resolve the mystery of their loved one’s disappearance.

Paul “Paulie” Thomas Murray, 49, who has been missing since June 2016, reportedly was last seen at Robbie’s Marina on Stock Island.

“There’s got to be someone who knows something that can help us find him,” Chris Murray, his brother, told the Free Press last week. “I know it’s not a crime to be missing, but this isn’t like Paul. He always calls. He checked in with my mom often. He called all the time, just to say ‘hey.’”

Paul Murray is the father of four children: two older girls and two younger boys. He had been living on the  34-foot Irwin Aft Cabin sailboat, Double Feature, moored in Boot Key Harbor since 2014.

He moved to the Keys from Naples but is originally from Michigan. He has knowledge as an architectural draftsman. He’s worked in the construction and carpentry trades as a tree trimmer. He is an avid sailor and has previously restored sailboats.

According to the missing persons report, Murray boarded a JGT bus from Marathon to Stock Island on June 16, 2016, to meet Donny Vanaria, 31, at Robbie’s Marina to help him sail his 1965 30-foot vessel, the Hornet, a boat that Murray had restored and sold to Vanaria in 2015.

The following morning, the Hornet was listing on its port side just outside of Robbie’s Marina with no one aboard. It had run aground on a jetty. A friend reported that Vanaria brought his dog to him to watch for a few days and left to return to New York in a hurry.

Witnesses confirmed that Murray had been at the marina but could not confirm he was aboard the Hornet.

His brother Chris said no one took Murray’s missing person case seriously at first.

“They went drinking and sailing and thought everyone got off safely but later learned that Donny went to New York. Donny had fled in a hurry in the middle of the night,” he said.

Monroe County records show that Vanaria, who reportedly moved back and forth between Brooklyn to the Keys, had been arrested three times, weeks apart, in 2014, starting with a causing bodily harm charge. 

“No one said they saw Paul go out with this guy and not return. His bank account hasn’t been touched, he hasn’t checked his Facebook account. It’s very unusual that we haven’t heard from him. Since then, no one has spotted him and there’s been no contact with him,” Chris Murray said.

“There hasn’t been much progress on finding Paul or finding out what’s happened to him. If something bad happened, there’s a violent guy out there still. We may not find him alive, but at least we can find out what happened.”

Paula Murray-Lhota, their mother, longs for a resolution on Paul’s disappearance.

“I want my son to come home,” she told the Free Press. “There are no words intense enough to express how much he is missed. We lived together for many years. He is everywhere in my home, always in my thoughts. Not knowing where he is just eats at me.”

Murray’s family is asking anyone with any information about his case to please call Crime Stoppers at call 305-471-8477 or 1-866-471-TIPS (8477), or visit floridakeyscrimestoppers.com. 

tjava@keysnews.com