FRANK ELTMAN,Associated Press
MASSAPEQUA, N.Y. (AP) — A man reported missing in waters off Long Island is alive and well and told detectives after apparently spending time in Florida and getting a speeding ticket in South Carolina that he was en route back to New York, police said Thursday.
"He's not drowned and dead," New York state park police Capt. Bruce Marx said at an afternoon briefing.
By early evening, however, there was no sign of the man at his Massapequa home, and Marx didn't know his whereabouts.
Raymond Roth, 47, was reported missing Saturday after his son told authorities that the two had gone to Jones Beach and that his father went swimming but never returned. Police marine units, helicopters and officers searched for days with no results.
On Wednesday night, a relative of Roth's contacted police and reported that he was in Florida, Marx said.
Early Thursday morning, Roth was stopped going 90 mph on a South Carolina highway and was issued a speeding ticket. The officer who issued the ticket then saw that Roth was listed in a national registry of missing people. Roth said he was returning to New York, and the officer let him proceed north. Marx noted that there was no legal requirement for authorities to detain Roth.
It's unclear what transpired on Saturday when Roth disappeared and whether criminal charges will be filed. A spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice declined to comment. Marx said any decision on charges would have to await further investigation. He estimated that the search effort cost tens of thousands of dollars.
State park police got Roth's cellphone number from a relative and had several telephone conversations with him earlier Thursday. Authorities say Roth told them he was en route back to Long Island and could arrive later in the day. Marx noted there was no way to know if that's true. He said it was unclear if Roth would contact police when he returns to New York.
No one answered the door at Roth's home on a quiet, middle-class suburban street on Thursday. A "for-sale" sign was posted on the front lawn, and neighbors said the Cape Cod-style home had recently undergone extensive renovations.
Jane Stone, who has lived in the neighborhood for more than 50 years, said Roth was always pleasant and would often use his snow blower to clear neighbors' walkways in the winter. She said she spoke to him last week and he was proud to show off his home's renovations.
"He was very happy and delighted and asked us to come over for a barbecue," she said, although they never followed through on the invitation. "He seemed very happy and everything, but this is before the house went on sale."
A Nassau County police spokesman said it was against department policy to say whether officers had been dispatched to the home for any reason in the past.
A LinkedIn page for Roth noted he worked for Level 3 Communications, a data networking company. A company spokesman declined to comment.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.