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First Clues In Missing Person Case

June 6, 1985

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Police investigating the case of a car dealer who disappeared seven months ago finally got their first break, only to lose it again when a man caught with the missing man’s car collapsed and fell into a coma, authorities say.

The man who collapsed at a police station is now considered brain-dead. As a result, police are no closer to finding the missing man, or determining whether he is alive or dead, Joseph Lordan, deputy San Francisco police chief, said Wednesday.

Paul Cosner, 39, disappeared Nov. 2 after telling his girlfriend he was going to show his car to a man who had answered a newspaper ad about it.

Cosner’s case gained nationwide attention last month when his disappearance was part of an NBC-TV documentary called, ″Missing - Have You Seen This Person?″

On Sunday, police in South San Francisco arrested a man for shoplifting who turned out to be driving Cosner’s car. A pistol and a silencer were among the items found in the vehicle and another man, who witnesses said was with the man, fled before police arrived. He has not been found.

″It’s the first good lead we’ve had,″ Lordan said.

But when police took the man back to the station, he collapsed and fell into a coma shortly after asking for a drink of water. The man is presently considered ″brain dead,″ Lordan said.

″I have no reason to believe that (Cosner is) either alive or dead at this point,″ Lordan said.

The man arrested on Sunday may have taken a pill before he collapsed, police Lt. George Baptista said.

″It looks like he did take something, but we don’t know what it is,″ Baptista said.

Before collapsing, the suspect ″began to sweat profusely and shake,″ Lordan said.

When he collapsed, police were still trying to determine the man’s identity, Baptista said. He had given them at least four different names and police still had not confirmed his identity on Wednesday.

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