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Friday, July 25 2014 @ 11:22 AM EDT

Family seeks help for O.C. woman missing in Panama

Expat TalesBy Chris Boucly - The Orange County Register - Dana Point, California: As cars whizzed by, drivers honking, more than 40 friends and family members carried signs and walked along Pacific Coast Highway over the weekend, trying to raise awareness of the disappearance of former Dana Point resident Yvonne Baldelli. In September, Yvonne Baldelli, 42, moved with her boyfriend Brian Brimager, 36, to Carenero Island, one of a group of islands that make up the archipelago province of Bocas del Toro on Panama's Caribbean coast. Baldelli had been laid off from her job and Brimager's Marine Corps service was coming to an end. The two wanted to live together on the beach, said Lauren Beyer, Baldelli's niece.

Baldelli, who loved to sew, hoped to sell her work on local beaches, and Brimager played the guitar in bars for tips, according to news reports. Beyer said her aunt frequently called or emailed family members. Her last correspondence came in late November, Beyer said. She was last seen on Carenero Island on Nov. 26, according to Panamanian authorities. Investigators said witnesses where Baldelli and Brimager were staying, known locally as Casa del Sapo, reported the couple had a violent relationship and frequently fought. Following one of those fights, Brimager told acquaintances Baldelli had gone to Costa Rica with another man, and he planned to return to Southern California, according to investigators. He was back in the United States by mid-December. There is no record of Baldelli leaving Panama, said Michele Valenzuela, Baldelli's sister.

Baldelli's family has been in Panama searching for her, and Panamanian and U.S. authorities have conducted multiple searches of the island. In the months since the search began, the FBI has joined the investigation, assisting Panamanian authorities in looking for trace evidence at the home where Baldelli and Brimager stayed.

Within a few days of returning to the United States, Brimager became engaged to and then married another woman, according to news reports. Public records indicate he was married on Dec. 31 to Kristin M. Werkhoven. Panamanian police have named Brimager a person of interest in the case and on May 18 declared it a homicide investigation.

As passersby stopped to ask about the march from Niguel Road to Selva Road on Saturday, Baldelli's father James Faust and others handed them pink fliers with details about Baldelli's disappearance and information on how to help. Later in the evening at Salt Creek Beach Park, the group gathered to hear Faust, Valenzuela and Baldelli's other sister Michelle Faust speak. Park visitors sitting in beach chairs or sharing blankets listened in as Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You" played in the background.

"No one has seen or heard from my sister Yvonne Baldelli since Nov. 26, 2011," Michelle Faust said. "We are here tonight to remember and to call for justice for Yvonne Baldelli. Losing her is a daily horror for all who love her, and we want answers to what happened to her. We want to prevent this from happening to any other family."

The evening ended with a candlelight vigil and, from James Faust, a plea to authorities: "Their continued efforts are imperative. As a father who speaks for the entire family, I encourage them to endure until we have justice, until Yvonne has justice." And a plea to the public: "We ask you to keep Yvonne and her entire family in your thoughts and prayers, but I also implore you to take action. Call or write your congressman. Tell them that you want to see justice for Yvonne Baldelli."

Editor's Comment: For more information on how you can help, please see;

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