Royersford Man Sought in Co-Worker’s Disappearance
DOYLESTOWN PA – A 47-year-old Royersford man, Michael Allen Stark (inset at top), is being sought as an alleged “person of interest” in the disappearance of a Sellersville resident with whom he worked, Bucks County District Attorney Matt Weintraub (left at top) announced in a Wednesday (Dec. 22) news conference, and on his office’s CrimeWatch website.
Both Stark and Sellersville resident Matthew James Branning, 50, went missing Oct. 15. Neither has been heard from since. Branning’s vehicle, a 2002 Lexus SUV with Pennsylvania license KWS-5619, also has not been located. Investigators believe something has happened to Branning, and that Stark – his co-worker at a Silverdale PA manufacturer – is somehow involved, Weintraub said.
The most recent sighting of Stark occurred during November in Garden City MI.
Branning was last seen leaving his job Oct. 15, according to Weintraub. At 4 p.m. that day, surveillance video showed Branning driving up to an ATM in Sellersville. The video also shows a person in the car’s back seat, who is partially visible but unidentifiable. Toll and cell phone data then show Branning’s car traveled into Central New Jersey around 5 p.m., and south into Cape May.
Investigators tracked Branning’s cell phone to a Wawa in Cape May at about 9:08 p.m., Weintraub said. Surveillance video from the Wawa shows Stark making a purchase at 9:24 p.m., but Branning is not seen in the video. After that, toll information shows Branning’s Lexus headed northbound and then westbound on the Atlantic City Expressway.
Since that date, there has been no activity on Branning’s cellphone, his bank account, or any contact with his family, Weintraub explained. “Every attempt to locate his vehicle has turned up nothing,” he added. Branning’s family can offer no explanation for him to travel unexpectedly to New Jersey, and said it is out of character for him to not contact his family or miss work.
All attempts by family, friends, and co-workers, and actions by law enforcement officials, were unable to locate either man until Nov. 13. That’s when Stark was positively identified on video at a Garden City MI pawn shop.
Anyone who knows the whereabouts of, or has any information regarding Matthew Branning, Michael Allen Stark, or Branning’s vehicle is asked to contact Bucks County detectives at 215-348-6056; or Perkasie Police Department detectives at 215-257-6876; or to anonymously submit a tip to the DA’s office on its webpage, here.
Anyone with information can also anonymously contact the Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers toll-free number at 1-800-4PA-TIPS (8477) or online, here. All callers to Pennsylvania Crime Stoppers could be eligible for a cash reward.
Photos provided by the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office