New information in Calverts disappearance

Published: Dec. 10, 2008 at 6:40 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2008 at 5:35 PM EST
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Elizabeth Calvert (Photo courtesy Beaufort County Sheriff's Office)
Elizabeth Calvert (Photo courtesy Beaufort County Sheriff's Office)
John Calvert (Photo courtesy Beaufort County Sheriff's Office)
John Calvert (Photo courtesy Beaufort County Sheriff's Office)

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - More details about John and Elizabeth Calvert's disappearance are being released. The Hilton Head Island couple has been missing for nine months.

On Wednesday, Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner held a news conference handing out two packets of information. One about the investigation itself and the other concerning the death analysis report of Dennis Gerwing, the man Tanner believes is responsible for their disappearance.

While there's still no sign of John or Elizabeth Calvert, Tanner is not expecting this case to end well.

"It's very doubtful they're alive and well," Tanner commented. "We hope we'd find them alive and well, but things aren't looking good.""

Nineteen pages were released with details on what happened days before and days after the Calverts disappeared.

John and Elizabeth went missing March 3 after a meeting with business associate Dennis Gerwing, who handled the Calverts' finances. The meeting was called after Elizabeth noticed financial irregularities. Days after their disappearance, investigators named Gerwing a "person of interest".

Tanner says during their interview with him, they noticed Gerwing had a cut on his hand. He said it was from a broken wine bottle, but Tanner says his story didn't check out.

Days later, Gerwing committed suicide in the bathtub of a Sea Pines villa, leaving behind a note.

In that note he stated:

"P.S. I have acted completely alone in all actions committed. I knew the risks of this happening and believe taking myself out of the game is the best way to move everyone as quickly as possible past all events. All anger should be directed towards me. Burn my body and dispose without service. It happened in SPC (Sea Pines Center) - nothing at Bent Tree house."

During their investigation, Tanner says much of Gerwing's story didn't check out. He says Gerwing purchased all kinds of incriminating evidence the day of their disappearance, including a shovel, latex gloves and three drop cloths.

"The tarps that were purchased by him were commercial tarps large enough to act in the same fashion as a body bag," said Tanner. "Three of them, you would have to speculate one was for one body, one for the other and the other for the back of the vehicle."

While Gerwing told a coworker he was using them for painting, according to the investigation report, "Neither of the three drop cloths nor the box of latex gloves purchased by Gerwing were ever recovered during the searches of his business, home or vehicles."

They even found dirt on the floor of his tidy home. Tanner says Gerwing likely removed the bodies from Sea Pines and disposed of them away from Beaufort County.

"He powered off his cell phone early in the evening and didn't power it on again until midday the following day, so he had 10, 11, 12 hours," said Tanner. "So we're looking at a five to six hour radius when the bodies could have been transported, if in fact that happened."

Tanner says he believes Gerwing used the items he purchased to bury them.

"You can't rule anything out, of course the dirt found in his home, the muddy shoes, the shovel, the fact he had ample time to drive far away from Beaufort County," Tanner said.

While the Calverts are still missing, Tanner says they believe Gerwing is their guy.

"It appears Dennis is responsible for their disappearance. Right now, we have him acting alone," he said. "We haven't associated him with anyone else. Of course that's still being looked at."

Despite the developments, Tanner says the Calverts' disappearance remains an active missing person's case.

Also at Wednesday's news conference was Nancy Cappelmann, a close friend of the Calverts. She said it was a lot of information to process, but that she was hoping for more.  Something that would point to where the Calvert's are.

She adds that she and others aren't giving up hope that the Calvert's will be found.

To read the entire report on the Calvert investigation by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, click here.