A Helendale man who checked himself into psychiatric care Monday was romantically involved with a missing Barstow woman and may have more knowledge or be involved in her disappearance last week, police say.

Police believe Jeami Chiapulis, 36, is connected to Leisa Ann Hurst, 30, who was reported missing after her orange Honda Element was found abandoned in Hesperia, said Barstow Police Det. Keith Libby.

Hurst, a Barstow single mother with two daughters, had visited Chiapulis' home in the Silver Lakes neighborhood of Helendale several times in the past, according to Libby.

On Monday, Chiapulis checked himself into the psychiatric ward of an unidentified hospital, said Libby. He has since been uncooperative with investigators, Libby said, so detectives are searching for information on Chiapulis' whereabouts from Hurst's Thursday disappearance until Monday, Libby said.

Police conducted two searches of Chiapulis' home, once on Sunday with his consent and again on Monday with a search warrant. During the searches, investigators found several pieces of evidence that led them to believe that Chiapulis had more knowledge about Hurst's disappearance, according to Libby.

Chiapulis is married and his wife is employed outside of California, Libby said. Police have found at least two other women that were romantically involved with Chiapulis, Libby said.

Hurst's car was found in the area of Olive Street and Second Street in Hesperia with its windows down and key still in the ignition.

The last sign of Hurst before she disappeared was Thursday at about 11 p.m., according to a police report, when her cell phone was used in Hesperia. Detectives located its signal near a cell tower on Mariposa Road but investigators could not provide details on that call, Libby said. She has not been seen or heard from since.

"Given the nature of [Hurst's] life and how much she cared for her two daughters we have strong indication that she is the victim of foul play," Libby said.

Anyone who may have information regarding Chiapulis' activities from Jan. 22 to Jan. 26 or this case is asked to contact Det. Keith Libby at 760-256-2211. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may call the WE-TIP hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME or leave information on the WE-TIP Web site at www.wetip.com.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or cnguyen@desertdispatch.com