A missing Staten Island man sent an ominous last text to his mom, writing "Please help me Mom" before vanishing days before Christmas.
Family and friends of Michael "Mikey" Stewart, 40, are now searching for answers about what may have happened to the father of two, who was last seen the evening of Dec. 20.
“There’s no way he would miss Christmas with his daughter. He loves his daughter. They do everything together," childhood friend Jaclyn Tantao, told the New York Daily News. "For him to not show up for Christmas or Christmas Eve was completely unheard of.”
Police have taken a man and woman into custody in connection with the case, but have released few details about the suspects.
"It doesn't look good," Stewart's aunt Roxanne told the Daily News. "They're not telling the extent of whether he's dead or not. They can't tell us that, they said, but I know right now the homicide (squad) is on it."
Stewart, who is reportedly the father of a 4-year-old daughter and 11-year old son, was seen around 6:30 p.m. the evening of Dec. 20 leaving an Irish pub. A New York City Police Department spokesperson told Oxygen.com this was the last time Stewart was seen.
However, the New York Post reported that Stewart was later captured on surveillance footage arguing with two men outside a barbershop in the same neighborhood as the pub.
"Detectives are telling us he was hurt," his aunt, identified only as Roxanne B., told the paper.
Witnesses say Stewart was also spotted at a second barber shop nearby, known as EZ Does It, at around 7:30 p.m. that night. During that visit, he allegedly told an employee he had an altercation earlier in the day with a male acquaintance of his ex-girlfriend, the Staten Island Advance reports.
“He told me he got into a fight. ... I told him ‘go home bro,'” the employee told the local paper.
Early the next morning, at about 1:55 a.m. on Dec. 21, Stewart sent the mysterious text asking for help to his mother, The Post reports.
Stewart hasn't been heard from since and failed to pick up an unemployment check that was deposited into his bank account. Richard Stewart told the Daily News his brother, who was a union carpenter and construction worker who helped rebuild the Ground Zero site, received unemployment benefits after a workplace accident left him unable to work.
Before Stewart headed to the pub that night, he reportedly got into an argument with his ex-girlfriend over the visitation of his daughter, the Staten Island Advance reports.
His family and friends are hoping to learn more about what else may have happened that day.
"We're doing whatever it takes," Tantao said. "Anything that will help get Michael back, we will do."
Stewart is described as being 5'7" and weighing approximately 170 lbs. He has brown hair, brown eyes, light skin, medium build and a tattoo on his neck, police said.
[Photo: New York City Police Department]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.