Original article no longer available
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 15, 2002 04:40 PM
Two weeks after Dr. Mark Salerno up and vanished for a second time, the Scottsdale pediatrician’s car has been found by authorities thousands of miles away at a state park in Pennsylvania.
Inside his Toyota was an enigmatic note, which authorities presume Salerno left for himself. It read, “Stay alert! Their relentless pursuit requires your constant vigilance!” He remains missing.
The car was located Friday morning at Moraine State Park, near a 3,200-acre lake, outside Pittsburgh, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.
Salerno disappeared on Halloween. He was last seen walking his dog near his Carefree home.
In an earlier incident, the physician left a note saying he’d been kidnapped, a story that he repeated when he was found locked in the trunk of his car at a San Diego park. He later admitted he fabricated the abduction.
Arpaio said Friday that Salerno is playing a cat-and-mouse game, and that the note may be Salerno’s way of teasing authorities or a sign that the doctor is mentally ill. Deputies will continue to search for the pediatrician “whether he is crazy or not,” the sheriff said.
Salerno might have been sleeping in his car because a few blankets were found in the back seat, Arpaio said. His cell phone and wallet were found unsecured in the car, and the trunk wasn’t properly latched, he said.
The doctor had been sending money to international accounts, and deputies are investigating his finances. Salerno might have been suicidal and, according to his wife, had a gambling problem and took anti-depressants, Arpaio said.
The sheriff has filed a request to charge Salerno $7,900 for the San Diego excursion. Arpaio plans to tack on the $5,000 his office has spent tracking him down so far in the second round of searches.
Arpaio also criticized the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners, which allowed Salerno to continue his Scottsdale pediatrics practice under several conditions.
A warrant was issued for Salerno’s arrest on Nov. 8 after he violated the terms of his three-year parole by skipping a meeting with his parole officer. Salerno was on parole for charges stemming from vehicle theft allegations. He is also not allowed to leave the state.
Salerno’s wife asked that the media respect her privacy and declined to comment.
“From a criminal aspect, he had no reason to flee,” said his attorney, Ronee Korbin Steiner. “As far as I’m concerned, I have a client who has some mental health issues and hopefully he’s well and safe.”
Republic reporter Christina Lucarotti contributed to this report.