Santa Monica police now say they believe missing British 19-year-old Leona Dawn Perryman is alive and probably is not the victim of foul play. Officers picked up her boyfriend, 45-year-old Paul Alfred Atkinson, Wednesday evening after he was named as a person of interest whom they wanted to re-interview.
That interview has been conducted, and Sgt. Jay Trisler told the Weekly Thursday that Atkinson is not a suspect. He said the man has been cooperative and that his story adds up. "Everything he's been talking about has been corroborated," Trisler said, "so we don't believe there is foul play. We believe she is alive and out there."
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Atkinson reported the woman missing after she took off from their room at the Pacific Sands Motel in Santa Monica Dec. 18, according to KTLA News. The British pair had been staying at low-end motels in Santa Monica, Venice and West Hollywood and were due to return to the U.K. Jan. 7 as their tourist visas expired. Atkinson said the teen was headed to an internet cafe when she left shortly before midnight on Dec. 18, but he added that it wasn't unusual for her to drift off for days.
As police looked into the case, they lost touch with Atkinson. They wanted to re-interview him, so they named him a person of interest in the case and went to the media with his picture. A tipster spotted him Wednesday at Bondi BBQ restaurant on Windward Avenue in Venice, and when Santa Monica police arrived they say he allegedly had a small knife in his possession. He was arrested on a weapons charge and has been in jail speaking on and off with detectives.
He's due to appear at the LAX courthouse Monday to face the weapons allegation.
Perryman is 5 feet, 7 inches tall with blond hair and blue eyes. Anyone who has seen her was asked to call Santa Monica police at (310) 458-8449.