FBI assisting in search for California woman last seen in Panama

IRVINE, Calif., April 27 Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:12pm EDT

IRVINE, Calif., April 27 (Reuters) - The FBI is assisting Panamanian authorities in the search for a Southern California woman who went missing from the Central American country in November, a spokesman for the agency said on Friday.

Special Agent Darrell Foxworth declined to elaborate on the FBI's role in the investigation or discuss evidence in disappearance of Yvonne Baldelli. "It wouldn't be appropriate for me to discuss specific details concerning the investigation at this time," Foxworth said.

Baldelli traveled to Panama in September after she was laid off from a job with a cosmetics company her younger sister, Michelle Faust, told Reuters in a phone interview. Baldelli was 41 at the time, and Faust said her boyfriend in the Central American country was a former U.S. Marine named Brian Brimager.

Baldelli of Laguna Niguel, a beachside community 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, was last seen on Nov. 26 on Carenero, one of several islands in the province of Bocas del Toro on Panama's Caribbean coast, Faust said.

"In Bocas del Toro for Thanksgiving weekend, there are a lot of American expatriates celebrating Thanksgiving, but not in the traditional way," Faust said. "There are a lot of parties and bar-hopping and stuff like that. So, there are a lot of people who saw her that night and not after that."

A Facebook page created by Baldelli's family said that in Panama she was producing hand-made doggie clothes and bikinis for her clothing line called "Sugarplum. Lovebug. Jujubee."

The clothing line was inspired by her dog GeorgiaMae, who is also missing.

Baldelli was expected to attend a family reunion in January, but she never showed up, Faust said. Her parents contacted the U.S. embassies in Panama and Costa Rica soon after that and went to Panama to look for her.

Brimager could not be located for comment on the case.

A wedding registry created at Amazon.com said Brimager had a civil ceremony in December to legalize his marriage to a woman named Kristin Werkhoven, who gave birth to his daughter in 2010.

The Web page said Brimager "went on a vacation to Panama to detox from the Marine Corps" in November.

Faust called her sister a "wonderful" person.

"She would do anything to make you happy and to make life better for other people," she said. (Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Todd Eastham)

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