Florida police launch large scale search for missing priest

Police in Jacksonville, Florida, on Saturday launched a large scale search for a missing priest, according to reports.

Father Rene Robert, 71, of the Diocese of St. Augustine, was last seen Sunday April 10 and authorities suspect foul play in his disappearance.

Authorities were asking residents and property owners near two interstate highways in Duval County to check their properties thoroughly, the St. Augustine Record reported.

“Do not touch or tamper with anything located,” the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said in a news release Saturday, according to the paper. “If you notice any disturbed round or unusual smells, please contact police right away.”

Robert’s car was recovered in Aiken County, South Carolina, along with 28-year-old Steven Murray, WOKV-FM reported Saturday.

Related Image

In this arrest photo made available by the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, SC., shows Steven James Murray of Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday, April 14, 2016. Murray is a person of interest in the disappearance of a 71-year-old Catholic priest from St. Augustine, Fla. Murray was taken into custody while driving a car in Aiken, SC., belonging to Rev. Rene Robert. (Aiken County Sheriff's Office via AP)Expand / Contract

Steven Murray. (St Johns County Sheriff’s Office)

Murray is the main suspect in the priest’s disappearance.

Before he was caught authorities said Murray was a Jacksonville man with a criminal background whom Robert may have been counseling at the time of his disappearance, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

He was extradited back to St. Johns County Friday, the station reported.

Robert’ family fears for his safety, the Albany Times Union reported.

“I have visions of him laying in a ditch some place or locked in a closet,” his half-sister Joan McAndrews told WTEN-TV, according to the paper.

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