BALDWIN PARK (CBS) — Some new clues and new questions emerged Monday in the case of a West L.A. man, who vanished while kayaking off the coast of Malibu last December.
The LAPD was trying to determine whether Pacific Palisades realtor Robert Louis Piatt drowned or faked his own death.
Piatt’s family spoke out for the first time Monday saying that they were desperate for answers. They said the last time they saw Piatt was on Christmas Eve.
“I’m on the water and my chest hurts,” Piatt said to the 911 operator.
“He was obviously in distress or at least he appeared to me to be in real distress,” one relative said after hearing the 911 call.
“I’m on the water,” Piatt said to the operator.
“On the water,” one operator asked?
“Where on the water,” a second 911 operator asked?
“I’m on the water,” Piatt responded in apparent distress.
“Where at? Zuma,” the first operator questioned?
“Where on the water are you, sir,” the second operator asked?
“Off the pier,” Piatt said between heavy breathes.
“That reinforces my belief that he had a heart attack and died,” one of Piatt’s relatives told us after hearing the recording.
Police said that Piatt made the 911 call from his cell phone, while he was kayaking in the afternoon near the Malibu Pier. It was the last time that anyone had heard from him.
“Sir, what’s the phone number you’re calling from,” the 911 operator asked?
“Sir,” the second operator said?
But there was no response.
“We’re trying to determine whether or not the phone was hung up or the phone was cut off,” said Detective Carmine Sasso of the LAPD.
Authorities found the rented kayak an hour after the call was made. But there was no sign of Piatt.
“Kayaking in the open ocean by yourself, not wearing a life vest; I mean those things kind of stick out a little bit,” Sasso said, adding that witnesses saw a motorboat leaving the area at a high rate of speed that afternoon.
But is it possibly that Piatt is still alive?
“Well that’s a possibility. I mean we believe that maybe perhaps the crew of that boat that was nearby may have seen something,” Sasso said.
“What I would like to see in this case is closure,” one of Piatt’s relatives said.
“Did he kill himself? I don’t believe that he did that. Why would anybody else want to do him in,” another relative said.
The cousins said that Piatt was a Second Lieutenant in the Marines, who served in Vietnam. They said his family was hoping to have some closure and more answers.