Les Stadelman, a 20-year-old Brimfield resident, was reported missing after police received a complaint at 2:39 a.m. Thursday from a Dairy Mart customer who noticed the convenience store, located at 1343 Tallmadge Road, was unattended.
"Stadelman is absolutely a suspect (in the theft), and we intend to issue a warrant for his arrest after seeking advice from the (Portage County) prosecutor's office," said Robert Burgess, chief of the Brimfield Police Department.
Stadelman, however, reportedly visited a friend in Akron Friday night and told her of his intention to leave Ohio, Burgess said.
"A gentleman called our department and said the suspect was visiting his daughter in Akron Friday night and that he was intending to flee the state," Burgess said. "Apparently, Stadelman was with several individuals, none with whom we have managed to contact."
Brimfield police received an unspecified number of other calls confirming the suspect's presence in the area.
A number of items were taken from the store between 1:30 and 1:45 a.m., including cash from the register, about $6,000 in money orders and roughly $1,500 worth of Ohio Lottery tickets, police said.
A question confronting investigators is whether Stadelman's acquaintances are connected with a 1989 gold Honda witnesses claim was at the Dairy Mart near the time of Stadelman's disappearance. A township police officer had contact with a vehicle matching this description in an unrelated incident about an hour before the clerk vanished.
"I think it's pretty safe to say he (Stadelman) is associated with the gold car," he said. "He didn't have any transportation of his own."
Police have spoken with a relative of the owner of the vehicle with license plate number AQD9875. The vehicle's registration traced to North Canton; the owner has not been seen since the incident, Burgess said.
Stadelman is white, 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs about 145 pounds. He has medium-length brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with pertinent information concerning Stadelman or the theft at the convenience store is encouraged to call the Brimfield Police Department at 677-1234 or 673-7716.