Suspect connected to missing woman in custody

MIDDLETOWN - The man reportedly caught on surveillance video leaving a Manhattan club with a missing Brooklyn woman is still in police custody Monday for allegedly violating his probation.

Michael Mele, 23, of Middletown, is being held in a Rockland County jail for allegedly violating his probation by drinking alcohol. He is also charged with failing to report to a probation officer. The registered sex offender was convicted in 2007 for masturbating on women at the Palisades Center Mall.

Laura Garza, 25, of Bay Ridge, went missing at around 4 a.m. last Wednesday after she came out of the Marquee nightclub in Chelsea.

Officials believe Mele could be involved in Garza's disappearance. Mele reportedly had bite marks on his hand and scratch marks on his neck when he turned himself in to authorities.

Mele's neighbors say they heard him vacuuming and saw him near the dumpster before police arrived at his apartment. State police have removed barrels of evidence from Mele's home and his parents' home. According to police, a shoe and an item resembling women's underwear have been found.

No charges in Garza's disappearance have been filed.

Mele is being held on $50,000 bail. Rockland County Police Detective Lt. William Barbera says Mele?s attorney will likely advise the family on whether to post bail or not. According to Barbera, if Mele is free on bail he could be picked up by state police for questioning in the Garza case.

Mele is due back in court Dec. 22.

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