VIRGINIA BEACH —The missing person case involving Bellamy Malaki Gamboa is now a murder case.
On Sunday, police arrested Lamont Johnson, Gamboa’s ex-boyfriend – according to the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office online jail booking, the offense date for the murder charge was July 1, the same day Gamboa was last seen.
Johnson, 41, of Virginia Beach, was also booked Sunday on two counts of contributing to delinquency, abuse of child (July 2), and another two counts of the same charge (July 3).
Virginia Beach Police would only say Johnson “was developed as a suspect in the missing person case of Bellamy M. Gamboa.”
“The recovery location of Bellamy M. Gamboa is still unknown,” Virginia Beach Master Police Officer Patrick Kane said.
The other charges “are related to specific events involving the children held in common,” between Johnson and Gamboa.
Police did not elaborate.
Kane said the delay in releasing information about Johnson’s arrest and its connection with Gamboa’s disappearance “is due to next of kin notification procedure and continued active investigative reasons.”
Further information about the now-murder case will be provided as it becomes available, Kane said.
Johnson is being held in the Virginia Beach city jail without bond.
Sunday night, Sheila Smith, Gamboa’s cousin, issued a statement on behalf of the family saying “we have been receiving many questions, flooded inboxes, texts, voicemails, however this is a very sensitive time and ask the public to respect their privacy.”
Gamboa’s family expressed their gratitude to everyone “who is offering their support and kind words.”
“On behalf of the Gamboa family, we would like to continue to fight to BRING BELLAMY HOME, as this is our priority,” Smith wrote. “It will not be in our place to comment on anything regarding the critical investigation as that will remain VBPD’s priority.”
She said news organizations “have been knocking door-to-door asking for interviews or comments.”
“It is absolutely imperative that we refrain and speak nothing other than to thank our wonderful supporters and community,” Smith said.
Gamboa, 40, was reported missing July 1 — authorities at that time said she may have been abducted and in danger.
Since then family, friends and volunteers have searched nearby areas.
According to a poster from theawarefoundationofvirginia.com, Gamboa was last seen at 10 p.m. July 1 at her apartment in the Diamond Springs area.
Gamboa’s 2005 Gold 4-door Ford Focus was found July 3 parked next to a dumpster in the 5800 block of Pickering Street, which was fewer than four miles from where she was last seen, police said.
The FBI is providing “technological and investigative” assistance to Virginia Beach Police through the Tidewater Crimes Task Force.
As of 8:25 p.m. Sunday, a GoFundMe campaign set up to cover search costs and for basic needs of Gamboa’s four children (16,15, and twins who will be 2 years old in October) has already raised $8,275 of its $18,000 goal.
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