PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire — There is no connection between a man who has been missing for three weeks and a new allegation of someone being drugged at a downtown tavern, Police Chief Robert Merner told seven television crews and staff from two newspaper organizations.
Merner called the media for a Wednesday night press conference to dispel social media conspiracy theories, assure the public Portsmouth is safe and provide updates on the two cases he reiterated are unrelated.
The chief said his department is investigating a report that someone was unknowingly given a “date-rape” drug at the Clipper Tavern early Sunday, but was not reported to police until Tuesday night. He said the report was made by a man who was out with his girlfriend at the time and the man wasn’t tested for the presence of drugs, which are not detectable after six to eight hours.
According to Merner, “a half dozen” incidents of alleged drugging with date-rape drugs were reported to Portsmouth police during the past two years. He said only one was confirmed by medical testing.
The man and his girlfriend posted their allegations online Tuesday night, the news and rumors spread quickly and police were fielding calls throughout the night, Merner said. He implored anyone with that kind of information to go to police first. He said the social media frenzy “caused a lot of consternation” for the family of Adam Camarato, a Maine man who has been missing since leaving the Clipper Tavern early April 27.
That investigation remains ongoing and has included searches on land, sea and in the air, according Merner. He said detectives have also investigated whether Camarato intentionally “went off the grid” and there is no evidence of that. New information from a surveillance camera shows Camarato walking north on State Street toward Maine at 1:17 a.m., the chief said.
“We can say with a level of certainty that he left Clipper Tavern alone,” Merner said, adding Camarato was alone when filmed on State Street. The new video appears to show Camarato was “not walking normally,” perhaps due to intoxication, he said.
There has been no contact with him since and there is no evidence of foul play, police said. The chief called the case an anomaly.
Merner said he met with Camarato’s family Wednesday to provide them with that new information. He said he also met with the Clipper Tavern owners. He believes the establishment itself is not connected to the disappearance and there’s no evidence anyone was drugged there.
Clipper Tavern co-owner Jeff Goss said his staff was not informed about the drugging allegation on Sunday and no one, including his paid doorman, saw anything out of the ordinary. He said his staff and customers are older, family-oriented and largely local people. Goss said he and his staff do not condone illegal behavior and reminded the business is open to the public.
Goss said, “Number one, I would like to see Adam home safe.” After that, he added, he has concerns about the reputation of his business being harmed through no fault of his staff or his business.
Goss said he’s lived in Portsmouth all of his 53 years, has everything invested in his tavern and hopes locals will continue to support him in spite of an incident and an allegation that have nothing to do with his business.
Merner reminded people to remain vigilant when they go out.
“Go with friends, leave with friends,” he advised.
He also advised people to not leave drinks unattended.
Camarato, 32, of Eliot, Maine, was last seen leaving the 75 Pleasant St. pub at 12:46 a.m. April 27 on foot and without a car, according to family.
Anyone with information about either case is urged to call Portsmouth police at (603) 436-2145. Anonymous tips can be left with Seacoast Crime Stoppers by calling (603) 431-1199, seacoastcrimestoppers.com or through the “P3 Tips” app.
Police Lt. Darrin Sargent said all tips are appreciated, but police are especially interested in hearing from anyone who spoke with Camarato the last night he was seen, “or after.”