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A man goes missing in Connecticut, and his car is found burning in New York state. Why was the FBI searching for his body in Sheffield?

No apparent Berkshires connections found

Sheffield FBI investigation (copy)

Multiple law enforcement agencies led by the FBI this month continued to work at the edge of a cornfield in Sheffield as they search for remains of who they believe might be Carlos Reyes, a Danbury, Conn. man who went missing in late March. 

SHEFFIELD — The FBI earlier this month spent several days searching for what it believed might be the body of a Connecticut man who went missing in late March, and whose car was later found engulfed in flames.

Sources familiar with the investigation and search say the agency was looking for the remains of Carlos Reyes, 20, whose family reported him missing on March 28. His car was found on fire the next day across the state line in Brewster, N.Y.

Police still consider the disappearance of Reyes, who worked for the food delivery website application DoorDash, a missing person investigation. Reyes lived and frequently delivered in Danbury.

CARLOSREYES2.jpg

Carlos Reyes, 20, was last seen by family on March 28.

When asked why Reyes’ body would have been disposed of in Sheffield, sources in law enforcement, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said police likely used GPS tracking of a vehicle that placed it at the Route 7 rest stop at the Housatonic River, near Sheffield Pottery. Surveillance and other kinds of electronic tracking might have helped.

Information about the Sheffield connection might also have come from others, including a man authorities are questioning about Reyes’ disappearance, sources said.

Christopher Lemke is in custody in Connecticut on $1 million bond for an alleged carjacking at gunpoint while fleeing police two weeks after Reyes went missing, as well as drug and other charges, according to Danbury Police. Lemke is also “directly related” to a search warrant in an area where police had collected evidence and surveillance related to Reyes’ disappearance.

The assumption, sources said, is that the body would have been dumped in the river; when not found there, police moved the search to the adjoining cornfield.

Neither Reyes nor Lemke are known to law enforcement in Berkshire County, the sources added, saying a check in the database came up empty.

Sheffield appears to have been a “remote enough” location to dispose of a body, as well as far enough away from where the crime is thought to have been committed, sources noted.

“If you try to think like a bad guy, that would seem like a good location to do something like that,” said one source, when asked if the rest area on the river was possibly used for that purpose. “The speculation [by authorities] is that the body was dropped here, not that the homicide was committed here.”

A spokesperson from the FBI’s Boston Division declined to answer questions Friday about the Sheffield connection. Early on in the investigation, the agency said it was looking for “specific evidence” as part of an ongoing probe.

A massive FBI and police presence here in early May alarmed residents and passersby. Search teams including divers were first seen at the rest area on May 4, possibly the evening before. The search soon moved to the abutting field. Crews appeared to be digging with an excavator and using other heavy machinery that accessed the field from Boardman Street, which runs parallel to Route 7 on the other side of the river.

On May 6, crews appeared to wrap up the search.

Carlos Reyes

Carlos Reyes

Meanwhile, in Connecticut, Danbury and other police departments continued their investigation. Connecticut and New York news sites have continued to report on it, and The Eagle used these reports along with information from Connecticut police and other sources to cobble together a picture of an investigation that led authorities to the Berkshires.

Related searches and a carjacking

Danbury Police say Reyes’ family last saw him the night of March 28. The next night, his four-door, 2008 gray Infiniti was in flames in Brewster, N.Y., which is roughly 11 miles west from Danbury. Police found the car unoccupied.

Fast forward to April 7. Police executed a search-and-seizure warrant at a home on Ball Pond Road in Danbury, which the Daily Voice, a Connecticut news site, said “ended with collecting surveillance footage and evidence associated with the missing person.” It also involved a search of a pond and storm drains.

In an April 15 Facebook post, Danbury Police Detective Lt. Mark Williams, said “Lemke was also directly related” to that April 7 search.

“Investigators are hopeful [Lemke] can provide them with information to help locate Reyes or his whereabouts,” Williams wrote.

The trail soon leads police to Newtown, Conn., which is roughly 11 miles east of Danbury. Another search warrant stemming from a stolen gun and multiple incidents on April 14 led to Lemke’s capture at a home there.

Lemke, 33, allegedly fled police on foot, kidnapped someone at gunpoint and stole a car. Police say they found Lemke in possession of narcotics with an intent to sell.

Danbury sits between Newtown, Conn. and Brewster, N.Y. Sheffield is about 60 miles north of Brewster; it’s about 57 miles from Danbury. Route 7, which begins in Connecticut, is a common route into the Berkshires from either city.

Heather Bellow can be reached at hbellow@berkshireeagle.com or 413-329-6871.

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