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Truck of missing L.A. designer found

July 29, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Investigators are searching for a Los Angeles man with a connection to Venice who disappeared more than a week ago on the Central Coast. He was reportedly last seen in Santa Cruz. Now a major development: authorities have located the missing man's vehicle, a Toyota Tacoma pickup truck.The burned-out vehicle was found early Wednesday morning in an unincorporated, mountainous area of Santa Cruz County near Bonny Doon. Authorities are processing the vehicle for evidence.

Elias Sorokin is still missing after his business trip to the Central Coast. A friend in Venice says she is starting to fear the worst.

"If anybody has any information about his whereabouts, please contact us," said friend Free Parker.

Parker is a longtime friend of Sorokin. The 29-year-old designer from Hollywood went missing on July 20 in Santa Cruz. Friends and relatives have set up a Web site hoping to help police in their missing persons investigation.

"This is unlike him," said Parker. "He is always in contact with many people. He has so many friends and family members that care about him, and he's always in contact with us."

Two days after Sorokin went missing, police say someone unsuccessfully tried to use his check card at a Target store in Watsonville. Two days later, a woman tried to cash one of Sorokin's business checks at a Bank of America in Santa Cruz. Police say the woman left when the bank teller called Sorokin's business for verification.

Police are hoping surveillance video will help them track down a suspect.

"We're going to try and work together to develop any leads we can," said Rudy Escalante from the Santa Cruz Police Department, "and hopefully locate the individual who was either trying to pass the bad check, or the case from Watsonville involving the stolen credit card, and hopefully we'll be able to locate the missing person as well."

Friends say Sorokin was originally from North Carolina. They say he's a talented entrepreneur focused on his new clothing line.

"The world needs him," said Parker. "He's one of the most kind, gentle people ever."

The L.A.P.D. is assisting Santa Cruz police in the missing person search. Anyone with information should call (213) 485-5381.

Friends and family are also offering a $20,000 reward for any information leading to Sorokin's whereabouts.

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