Robert Mayer left his Dix Hills home around 4:30 a.m. Friday, June 14 in his bright red 2004 Pontiac GTO, the same he’d done countless mornings as an electrician rising before dawn to get to his jobsite—this time, a massive theater complex under construction in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
Around 9 a.m., he spoke with his wife Ida about that weekend’s plans. Father’s Day was on Sunday, and his mother and in-laws were coming by for a barbeque. Ida told him she’d buy some lobster; he asked her to also pick up some oysters. Mayer loved to barbeque.
They also talked briefly about an upcoming vacation to Italy they’d been planning, for July 7.
“He was happy,” Ida tells the Press. “Everything was good.”
Unbeknownst to her, it’d be the last conversation she’d have with her husband of 18 years. Robert never came home that night, nor any since.
His car—which Ida says he “loved”—was discovered the next day abandoned at Long Island Rail Road’s Deer Park station. Its keys were missing, the front seat was moved forward closer to the steering wheel than he’d have it, and the trunk, where Mayer typically would keep his tools, lunchbox and water bottles, was empty; the latter found on the front seat.
Ida subsequently discovered Robert’s green mountain bike also missing.
A Suffolk County Police Department spokesperson tells the Press detectives do not believe Mayer’s disappearance to be the result of foul play at this stage and that the investigation is ongoing.
Ida, however, fears the worst.
“This is a man who never once spent a night away from home,” she stresses, between sobs. “Not once, not one night in 18 years was he not with me.
“He didn’t like the Long Island Rail Road parking lot because of all the thefts [there],” Ida continues, explaining that they’d go so far as to drive into Queens where relatives lived and hop a subway from there rather than take the LIRR whenever heading into the city. “His car, that was his baby, aside from the family, that was what he loved the most, was his car. He just would never leave it there. To find it there without a Club on it—he wouldn’t park it there.
“He wouldn’t walk away from everything he has, everything he’s worked for his whole life,” she adds, weeping. “He had no reason to—and his children. We have two children. My son is 15 and my daughter is 11. They mean the world to him.”
Their son plays in a band, and Robert, a drummer, attends his shows and helps set up equipment. Their son had a gig that Saturday the weekend Robert went missing—he just wouldn’t have missed that show, Ida insists.
“I believe that he’s in danger,” she cries. “Something happened to him.”
The 6-foot, 200-pound electrician was last seen around 2:15 p.m. June 14 at Arrow Scrap yard in West Babylon—where he sold scrap metal from his jobsite. His cell phone went dead about a half hour later.
An Arrow foreman tells the Press Mayer had been a longtime, if sporadic, “customer” of the recycling center.
“He was a nice, well-composed individual,” he said Friday, August 2—exactly seven weeks to the minute of Mayer’s last known visit—but with little other details to offer. “Over the years, he probably came in here every so often to scrap some metal.”
Arrow’s surveillance cameras are aimed at the parking area and entrance, but the foreman declined to say whether they captured Mayer’s sharp red sportscar June 14—a vehicle, said another worker, that would have stood out from the typical daily parade of beat-up pickups and trucks filled with wiring and wreckage the majority of sellers haul their scraps to the center in (as was the case Friday afternoon).
“So strange,” said the worker, shaking his head and expressing sympathy for Mayer’s family as he clenched the “Missing” flyer.
Workers at Heavy Metal Scrap a few blocks away—the other recycling yard in the area that deals with the type of materials Mayer would have sold—did not recognize him, nor his car, when shown the handout.
“I feel bad for the family,” says Bob Savage, 53, of Port Jefferson, one of dozens of volunteers—many complete strangers—who’ve been searching for answers and trying to raise awareness about the case since Mayer’s abrupt disappearance.
He joined about 60 others July 7, along with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation officials and nonprofit Long Island Search and Rescue, scouring 813-acre Oak Brush Plains Preserve at Edgewood in Deer Park. Savage also teamed up alongside about two dozen others handing out flyers and searching for clues and potential witnesses July 21 at Deer Park train station, which abuts the preserve.
Savage, a photographer and mountain biker who heard about Mayer’s vanishing from a friend, has been contributing photos he’s taken during the searches to the “Robert Mayer Search Group” Facebook page, which currently has more than 1,000 members. The page serves as a bulletin board for updates and to strategize future searches, flyer-handout drives and media attention.
These selfless efforts from complete strangers mean the world to Ida, who gets emotional at the mere mention of the grassroots efforts.
“There’s over 900 people on this group that I don’t even know, that are amazing,” she tells the Press, sobbing. “And they have reached out to me and they’ve supported me.
“The community support and just the support of people all over has been overwhelming,” she adds. “Thank God for them, because they’re working so hard to try to find him.”
Local Union 3, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, has also posted the Mayer’s “Missing” flier on their website. His most recent worksite had been at the Theatre for a New Audience complex on Ashland Place in Downtown Brooklyn’s BAM Cultural District.
Robert Mayer is 6’0 and weighs about 200 pounds. He has short brown hair, hazel-green eyes and possibly a beard by now. Mayer was wearing a grey polo shirt with a J.C. Electrical logo emblazoned on it, light blue jeans and black work boots. His left middle finger is slightly chopped off at the tip and he didn’t have his wallet or any identification with him at the time of his disappearance.
Until there is “concrete evidence” otherwise, Suffolk County police will treat Mayer’s vanishing as a Missing Persons case, Ida says, despite his nearly two-month-long disappearance.
Any one who may have seen Robert or who may have information about his disappearance is asked to call the Suffolk County Police Second Squad at 631-854-8252.
Ida describes her husband as a “homebody” who enjoyed lounging around the house watching TV and playing video games with their children, and a loving, caring family man who would do anything for his family, friends and neighbors.
“His family is the most important thing to him,” she says, between long pauses and sobs, “followed by his friends. During Hurricane Sandy, he was the one helping everyone set up generators and lending them anything they needed. He was the first one out there, and my neighbors will tell you that.”
“Someone out there knows something,” Ida insists, vowing never give up on finding her husband. “Whether it’s at the scrap yard or with the worksite in Brooklyn, any of the last places he was seen—or the train station. Someone saw something, someone knows something.
“My husband would not just disappear.”