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Man's disappearance puzzling

Clifford Hayslette has been missing since May 2 but someone is cashing his checks. Police think the signatures are real.

By MARY CARMICHAEL

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 24, 2000


Clifford Rodney Hayslette told some of his family and friends on May 2 that he was headed from Tampa to his daughter's house in Land O'Lakes.

He didn't tell her, though, and no one has heard from the 72-year-old man since.

But someone is cashing his checks at bank drive-throughs in Tampa -- and his daughter doesn't think it's he.

"He never goes to the drive-through window," Noni Ponton said. "My dad doesn't drive."

Hayslette has no permanent address and shuffles between the houses of relatives and friends, changing locations about once a month, Ponton said. But he usually calls his relatives and tells them when he moves, she said, and he also usually calls his friends.

"He's never disappeared more than two or three days," she said. "He'll go to my sister's or my son's, and he has friends in the Panhandle, where he used to live, and he also has several friends in Sarasota. But I've called everyone he's known in the last 20 years, and he has not contacted anybody."

Ponton said her sister, Tisha Reid, was caring for Hayslette in Tampa when he went to visit a friend who lived nearby. He left the friend's house on foot on May 2, saying he was going to catch the city bus and then go to Ponton's house at 23153 Lucerne Place in Land O'Lakes.

That was the last time anyone saw Hayslette. Ponton filed a missing persons report in Pasco County on June 14 after calling Hayslette's friends and the rest of the family.

Repeated efforts by the Times to contact Reid on Friday were unsuccessful.

Pasco County sheriff's deputies say four checks from Hayslette's account have been cashed at drive-throughs in Tampa -- one on June 1 for $600, one on June 5 for $100, one on June 7 for $600 and one on June 14 for $200.

The first three were cashed at the Raintree First Union bank at 5880 East Fowler Ave. in Tampa, while the fourth was cashed at the nearby Union Square Mall First Union at 2009 East Fowler Ave.

"Someone's going to the bank, asking for temporary checks and withdrawing cash," said Ponton. "It's either someone else, or someone who has my dad."

The banks do not have surveillance cameras at their drive-throughs, so no one is sure if Hayslette was the one cashing the checks. But Pasco County sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said Friday that the signatures on the checks appear to be genuine.

Still, said Ponton, Hayslette has an aversion to drive-through banking. Even if someone drives him to the bank, she said, Hayslette prefers to go inside the bank.

And there are other details that don't make sense, Ponton said. When Hayslette left Reid's house, he did not take the blood pressure and ulcer medication he had just gotten at the VA hospital in Tampa two days before.

"He's never been forgetful about things," Ponton said. "He's in a sound mind."

However, Hayslette was on a new medication, perhaps a mild sedative, Ponton said, because he had been mugged in Tampa two days before he disappeared. The incident never was reported to police, Ponton said.

Where to call

Anyone with information should call Pasco Sheriff's Detective Allan Proctor at 1-800-854-2862.

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