Twists and turns in 11-year search for URI grad who vanished

Special Reports

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) — One year after a University of Rhode Island graduate vanished, the story took a twist. A second turn was only another year away.

“It was kind of strange,” Narragansett Police Detective Scott Vellone recalled.

In December 2008, Wojciech Fudali left his Newport apartment to stay with friends on the West Bay. As the group spent time together, everyone noticed something was wrong with Fudali.

“He was suffering from some sort of mental breakdown,” Vellone said. “Some of the friends that were at the house had conversations with him that were kind of different types of conversations. He was acting strangely.”

That night—December 6—police were called to the home. It had nothing to do with Fudali and it was resolved quickly but the officer noted Fudali was there.

Hours later, Fudali’s friends heard loud noises coming from his room, according to Vellone. They calmed him down and left the room.

That’s the last confirmed sighting of Fudali.

He vanished.

An eyewitness told police she saw someone who looked like Fudali sitting on a dock the following morning. Vellone said they found a book there opened to a page about “being one with the sea.”

He said at that point, detectives presumed Fudali went into the water.

Hours later, another man said he saw someone running through the marsh wearing little clothing.

“It was a cold morning that morning so if anyone was going through that marsh unclothed, they’re probably not going to be able to withstand those types of temperatures for very long,” Vellone noted.

No one found him. Friends searched for days in the marsh.

Nothing.

Police used K-9s and helicopters.

Still nothing.

A missing-person poster collected a few tips but they led nowhere. Fudali had disappeared.

Then, a year later, Fudali’s mother got a phone call.

“It was a child’s voice asking for Fudali and it was just a very bizarre phone call the mother received,” Vellone said.

They traced the call to a woman in Puerto Rico but that, too, led nowhere.

“The fact she would have had the Fudali phone number and the fact she had the name was kind of strange,” Vellone added.

As more time passed, Fudali’s mother walked into her house one day and found a handwritten note. It was misspelled and child-like but curious to investigators.

It said: “I mise you. Love, Woiteic. I am at the bet.”

Even Wojciech’s name was spelled wrong.

Vellone said a handwriting analyst was brought in but the results were inconclusive. It was just another curious lead that led nowhere.

To bring in more tips and uncover answers, Vellone added the Fudali investigation to a deck of cold case playing cards. Each card highlights an unsolved homicide or missing person case in Rhode Island.

Fudali is the 3 of spades.

“Any family member deserves peace of mind in knowing what happened to a child that is presumed missing,” Vellone said.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-877-RI-SOLVE.

More Cold Case Cards » | Cold Case Cards: All In »

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