Search efforts to find a Selbyville man who went missing from a Fenwick Island condo on Feb. 9 have been scaled back, according to Delaware State Police, but friends and family remain optimistic and hopeful for his safe return. Police said 29-year-old Gregory Forte was last seen at a condo with friends on South Carolina Avenue in Fenwick Island last Tuesday night, and his family is now offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to his safe return.
According to reports, Forte’s Jeep Grand Cherokee was found abandoned under a carport at the condo the morning after he went missing, with the keys still in the ignition, the radio playing and the driver’s door open. Forte’s knit hat was also located along a walkway leading to the beach.
The vehicle was towed to state police barracks in Lewes to be processed for evidence, although no leads have been identified. Witnesses said that when he was last seen, around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 8, Forte was not wearing shoes.
“We have virtually searched every geographic possibility,” said Sgt. Walter Newton, public information officer with the Delaware State Police. “We’ve followed up with friends and family in the town of Selbyville and all around.”
A cursory search was conducted by officers within the first 24 hours after Forte was reported missing but was limited by the second of two blizzards that week. On Thursday, Feb. 11, search efforts were extended as 20 state troopers and members of Bethany Beach, Millville and Roxana volunteer fire companies, as well as approximately 75 members of the community came out to search for Forte.
Troopers searched the dunes along the beach from the state park, just north of Fenwick Island to the Maryland state line. Ocean City, Md., police also assisted, searching the dunes from the state line to 114th Street. The Delaware State Police helicopter flew over the beaches but was also unable to locate anything.
On Friday, Feb. 12, friends, family and members of the community attended a candlelight vigil at Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church in Ocean View. Friends of Forte and his family spoke, with hope and prayer in their words.
“I’m amazed at the way his family and people who didn’t even know him have come together for Greg,” said Amy Rice, a friend of the family. “I know everyone has been praying for [him].”
By Saturday, Feb. 13, the Delmarva Search and Rescue Group combed the area with the help of their K-9 unit, but no additional leads turned up.
“As of now,” said Newton on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 17, “there is little we can do as far as searching over the areas. We have exhausted that avenue. State police are, however, still examining the case. They are looking through financial records to see if there are any tips that indicate where [Forte] might be.”
Forte’s cell phone was found in the Jeep, with a dead battery, on the morning the vehicle was located, noted Newton, so there is no subsequent trail of phone calls to trace.
Forte attended Mount St. Mary’s University and earned his master’s in secondary education from the University of Delaware. He was scheduled to begin substitute teaching this month at Indian River High School, from which he graduated in 1998.
Forte is a white male, standing 5 feet, 11 inches tall, weighing 155 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Police said they do not suspect foul play. Anyone who knows his whereabouts or who has additional information that could possibly lead to his return is being encouraged to call Delaware State Police Troop 7 at (302) 645-6653 or Delaware State Police Troop 4 at (302) 856-5850.