Search for couple includes probe into Club Group finances

HILTON HEAD -- The Club Group is hiring an independent accounting firm to review all of its financial records after suicide notes left by the company's chief financial officer acknowledged he stole money from missing couple John and Elizabeth Calvert.

There is no indication of irregularities in any of the company's other dealings with various retail, real estate and property management businesses, spokesman Tom Gardo said Friday. But Mark King, the company's president, wants to review all the books to reassure clients, Gardo said.

"It's a measure just to stay ahead of the situation," Gardo said, "just to make sure that everybody feels comfortable with what's going on."

In a statement released Friday, the company said it has no knowledge of information in the suicide notes left by Dennis Gerwing other than what has been reported in The Island Packet and The State newspaper in Columbia.

Gerwing was discovered dead in a Sea Pines villa about two hours after authorities named him a "person of interest" in the disappearance. An autopsy report said he had been dead about 12 hours before he was discovered.

An accounting firm already has been selected and will begin the review promptly, Gardo said. The Club Group's clients include seven local homeowner associations, the shops at Sea Pines Center and five golf courses in Georgia. The Club Group also provided accounting and bookkeeping services for John Calvert's businesses until December, when Calvert decided to handle those duties in-house. Calvert owns the company that operates Harbour Town Yacht Basin and another that rents 125 vacation properties.

Gerwing was handling the transition. He was the last-known person to see the Calverts when they met with him March 3, the night they disappeared. Law enforcement sources told The State the meeting was to discuss the Calvert's suspicions about business transactions Gerwing was involved in.

"We know nothing about what has been allegedly admitted to by Mr. Gerwing or how it relates to our company," King said in the statement.

Sources told The State that Gerwing admitted in his two suicide notes that he stole money from the couple, but he was silent on whether he played a role in their disappearance. Elizabeth Calvert, a business attorney with HunterMaclean in Savannah, Ga., kept notes on her suspicions that authorities now have, The State reported.

Search continues

Authorities Friday searched several sections of woods on the northern part of Hilton Head, but Beaufort County Sheriff's P.J. Tanner said the investigation remains in a "holding pattern" until evidence can be analyzed.

The slow pace of information is becoming frustrating for authorities, Tanner said at a press conference Friday morning.

John Calvert, 47, and Elizabeth Calvert, 45, were reported missing March 4, after missing business appointments.

About 10 searchers with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office combed the woods near Mitchelville Beach Park and Barker Field on Friday afternoon.

The searchers, some holding long bamboo poles, fanned out through the woods and along the Port Royal Sound beach for more than an hour and were overheard discussing details about the missing couple. The searchers did not appear to find any new clues.

Tanner said the search is no longer focused on the island, but he did not say where else authorities were looking. The Calverts' other home in Atlanta already has been searched, Tanner said earlier this week, and vacant rental units managed by John Calvert also have albeen searched, he said Friday.

"I can just tell you that it has expanded quite a bit over the past 11 days," he said.

Investigators inspected storage units on the island Thursday with a cadaver-sniffing dog, Tanner confirmed Friday.

"All of them have been searched," he said.

As the mysterious disappearance stretched into its 12th day, Tanner said he expects to release no new information until about Wednesday when the State Law Enforcement Division should complete its examination of evidence.

That evidence includes material gathered from ground searches and the two suicide notes.

Tanner again declined to comment on the contents of the notes reported in the media Friday.

"It would be improper for me to comment on information provided by a nameless, faceless source," he said.