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Don't Sail to San Clemente Island with Your Software "Partner"

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In a bizarro case that looks like a business deal gone bad, but plays more like a conspiracy theory gone right, a software programmer and his marketing guru partner sailed for San Clemente Island on Saturday to seal a "lucrative" deal with a secret government agency and he never returned.

Robert Vendrick, a retired programmer, met up with Gary Shawkey, a self-described marketing guru, and entered into a business deal to develop a highly secretive software program for senior government officials. Shawkey convinced Vendrick to put $60,000 of his own money into the development and set about making arrangements to secure them both a million dollar deal. The pair allegedly set off for the U.S. Navy-owned San Clemente Island on Saturday to close the deal. Shawkey returned, Vendrick did not.

As the LA Times reports, investigators have questioned Shawkey twice as part of their ongoing investigation into Vendrick's whereabouts, but no charges have been filed. Vendrick's family, who reported him missing on Monday, fears he has fallen prey to a "get-rich-quick scheme gone bad." There is no evidence that the pair ever made it to the island and Vendrick's hotel room at the Dana Point Marina Inn looked as if it was left hastily, with the fireplace still burning when policed searched the room on Monday.

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The Coast Guard is dredging the Dana Point Harbor for Vendrick. No suspects have been apprehended and the investigation is ongoing. Police have said, however, that Shawkey remains a "person of interest."

Photo by reitveld via Flickr