Police say key witness in case of missing woman isn't talking

Published: Jun. 11, 2012 at 9:07 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 11, 2012 at 9:34 PM EDT
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Leyla Namiranian
Leyla Namiranian

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Chesterfield police said a key witness in a woman's mysterious disappearance is holding up the case.

41-year-old Leyla Namiranian has been missing for more than two months now. Police said a Richmond man believed to be the last to see her is no longer talking to investigators.

A search warrant affidavit states Namiranian did not leave her home voluntarily. It also tells us what she was doing the night before she was reported missing. Police said a key witness could fill in some blanks, but isn't!

He's identified in the search warrant as Peter Paoli. Police said he worked with Namiranian at one point at Altria.

"Primarily, he's probably a witness. We don't have any evidence he committed a crime, but at this point we can't rule him out," said Chesterfield Captain David Pritchard.

According to the search warrant affidavit, the Richmond man had a late dinner with Namiranian here at her home on April 4th.  He stayed about two hours and went home about 11 o'clock.

Another co-worker called police the next day after Namiranian didn't show for meetings.

The warrant states phone records show Paoli was the last person to speak with Namiranian and possibly the last to see her. His DNA is being compared against a stain found at Namiranian's house.

Police said Paoli initially shared information with investigators but has a lot more valuable details they'd like to hear.

"He is holding up our investigation by not meeting with us," said Capt. Pritchard.

Police said Paoli hired attorney Steven Benjamin who offered to take questions from investigators and return with written responses from his client.

"As any attorney knows that's not a valid law enforcement interview. A lot of what we do is watching facial and physical expressions and seeing how people respond to questions," said Capt. Pritchard.

Last week, police revealed they have a person of interest, a second man also from Richmond.  Police took clothing from his car and apartment.

That man reached out to NBC12 and said he didn't have anything to do with her disappearance.

I reached out to attorney Steven Benjamin but he would not comment.

Police said they're not settled on any theory of crime, if there is even a crime that has occurred.

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