It was a warm April evening in Callaway, Florida–a small community outside Panama City. At the town’s Walmart, 23-year-old Coy Prescott combs the aisles with his 19-year-old wife, Beth. Tomorrow was Coy’s 24th birthday, and Beth wanted to craft a perfect celebration dinner. Earlier that day, she sought her mother-in-law’s guidance for the meatloaf. For the cake, she wanted to use blue icing to write 6–the number of her husband’s favorite race car driver, Mark Martin.
The couple had only been married for two months. Their apartment was within walking distance of Walmart, which both found convenient because neither owned a car.
Elizabeth Iris Prescott, who preferred to be called Beth, was born on October 5, 1984. She graduated from Rutherford High School. Donna Pagliaicetti, Beth’s stepmother, shared a strong bond with her stepdaughter and acted as a source of support throughout the years.
“[Beth] confides in mom,” Donna told Anthony Cormier of the Panama City Herald in 2004, “She’s a tiny little thing, tall and skinny. But she’s always very jolly, the kind of person who could talk to anyone.”
Vincent Pagliacetti, Beth’s father, agreed but said that at 19, his daughter was still naïve. “If somebody came up to her while she was walking and said, ‘Hey, I’ll give you a ride.’ She’d take it. To her, the world is just wonderful.”
Despite Beth’s youth, a different man had proposed to her just a year prior; she was engaged to Eric Moore but broke it off later in December.
Beth married Coy in February. It is unclear when their relationship began. She wrote about life as a married woman in her diary: it gifted her a sense of calmness–a welcome change from her past.
On April 30, 2004, the Prescotts were getting ready for the day. As Coy left for work, Beth told him to call her an hour before the end of his shift to give her a timeline for dinner. Coy left around 5:45 a.m. It was the last time he heard his wife’s voice before she disappeared.
Later, Coy called Beth as she had asked, but she did not answer. Coy left a message and called again; like before, there was no answer. Confused, he left a second message and wrapped up his shift.
At around 4 p.m., Coy arrived home to an empty apartment. Beth was nowhere in sight. A damp towel hung in the bathroom, and $50 in cash was missing. According to several sources, someone checked Coy’s first message on their answering machine, but the following one remained unopened. Other sources claim both were left unopened.
When Beth failed to show up the following morning, Coy called Donna Pagliacetti. She told him she had not heard from her stepdaughter and urged Coy to call the police, who did so.
A stunned Coy Prescott told police he and Beth had gone to Walmart the night of the 29th and had last spoken to her the following morning as he was leaving for work. Several witnesses saw the couple at the store, but anything afterward has yet to be verified. Police obtained subpoenas for phone records and security tapes at Wal-Mart but found nothing of evidentiary value.
The apartment showed no signs of forced entry nor evidence of a struggle. Furthermore, if Elizabeth had left voluntarily, she only had the clothes on her back, a purse, and $50 in cash. These facts worried investigator Dave Kania of the Bay County Sheriff’s department. In an interview with Anthony Cormier, Kania said the “main thing” that made him suspicious was that all of Beth’s clothing was still there.
Kania read through Beth’s journals and characterized her as someone “with highs and lows.” However, none of the entries denoted a dysfunctional marriage, desires to run away, or feelings of endangerment. Furthermore, nobody close to Beth reported her expressing anything of concern.
Despite no evidence of foul play, police classified the case as a missing person under suspicious circumstances.
Vincent and Donna were uncertain as to what to make of the events. Beth had run away as a teenager and returned a few days later. She had lingered at her boyfriend’s house without informing her family. Investigators learned they had kept in touch, even after her marriage to Coy.
Police located the ex-boyfriend for questioning. In the interview, he denied having any involvement in Beth’s disappearance. Nevertheless, he and Coy took a polygraph test. Both men passed.
Police questioned the third man, but his identity and association with Beth Prescott remain undisclosed. He stated he never knew Beth, but police found two pictures of the missing woman in his wallet.
On May 6, a week after Beth went missing, detectives searched through her and Coy’s unit at Abalone Apartments. An inventory showed that Beth had left behind her cell phone and most of her clothing. Police read Beth’s diaries from cover to cover but found nothing suspicious.
Abalone Apartments surrounded an extensive wooded area with several ponds, which special crews searched. The investigation brought Bay County Search and Rescue to the scene. The team dragged several bodies of water and conducted extensive foot searches with K9s but uncovered nothing related to Beth.
Coy, Donna, and Vincent received a few updates on the investigation for the rest of the year. October was difficult because it was Beth’s 20th birthday. A former day of celebration was washed away by a somber gathering of dread, fear, and anguish.
Donna described the tragedy as “a living hell.” Although she and Vincent were grateful that the police were still searching, their anguish continued as time passed.
A spokesperson for the department stressed they had not forgotten Beth, and every assigned detective made the case a priority.
In January of 2005–nine months after Beth Prescott disappeared–police announced the case was a likely homicide. Her bank accounts and social security number had been inactive since she went missing. The prolonged silence only fueled suspicion.
Detective Kania explained that Beth would have contacted someone by now if she had run away. However, despite the announcement, they named no possible suspects.
Investigators began interviewing people within Beth’s inner circle and subpoenaed her and her family’s phone records. One of their focuses became Eric Moore, Beth’s ex-fiance, who returned his engagement ring when she vanished. It’s unclear if he was also the boyfriend Beth had run away with several years ago.
Eric said he and Beth continued seeing each other, which escalated into an affair once she wed Coy. He was reportedly cooperative, and investigators believe the ring’s return was likely a morbid coincidence. Eric Moore has never been charged in connection to Elizabeth Prescott’s disappearance.
Throughout the years, Coy Prescott denied all media interviews but fully cooperated with the investigation. He was questioned a second time in May of 2005 and admitted having suspicions that Beth was with Eric. According to Captain Jimmy Stanford of the BCSD, the interview ignited into an interrogation, and Coy was close to a breaking point.
“[Coy] was a bit rattled,” Capt. Stanford told the Panama City Herald. “I thought we would get some information that could help us that night, but we did not.”
Coy continued to cooperate, albeit with his lawyer present and has never been charged or implicated in Beth’s disappearance.
In 2012, eight years after Beth disappeared, CrimeStoppers organized a rally at the Callaway Walmart.
Donna Pagliacetti stood at the podium and pleaded for her stepdaughter’s location. Donna stressed that taking one minute to examine the flyer could end years of unanswered questions.
She and Vincent told reporters that time failed to ease their pain because, without answers, Beth was always on their minds.
Investigators, volunteers, and family members distributed fliers to several longtime shoppers hoping to refresh their memories.
Sometime later, a third suspect entered the picture. Ivan Ferrer-Perdomo was a convicted felon with a criminal history spanning nearly 15 years; one conviction included murder. In prison, he reportedly boasted about murdering Elizabeth Prescott. He stated Beth had gone to his home on 23rd Street to buy drugs. When she arrived, Perdomo ambushed and killed her.
Perdomo’s house on 23rd Street was only eight minutes from Abalone apartments.
Investigators confronted Perdomo, who “clammed up” and requested an attorney. However, further investigation into Perdomo’s past unearthed no connections to Beth Prescott. Additionally, his story contradicted vital information only available to investigators.
One investigator theorized Perdomo was playing with cold case cards, saw Elizabeth’s picture, and, for attention, concocted a lie.
In 2021, Perdomo returned to the headlines after a violent altercation between him and his friend, who called 911. Perdomo seemingly panicked and hid once the officers arrived. He did not want a parole violation.
After the officers left, Perdomo carrying a knife, attacked again. He tied his victim up, threatened to kill him if he made any noise, and stole his money and car.
Perdomo fled to another state in the vehicle, but U.S Marshals quickly apprehended him. He received numerous charges, including robbery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, false imprisonment, grand theft motor vehicle, and tampering with a victim or witness. A grand jury convicted him on all counts, and he was sentenced to life. Ivan has never been charged in connection with Elizabeth Prescott’s disappearance.
Police have three possible theories concerning what happened to Beth. First, she abandoned her entire life and started a new one in a foreign country. However, this was unlikely because she had no means of transportation to the nearest airport, not even a car.
The second theory is Beth was abducted in or around her apartment. Given her outgoing nature, it’s equally possible her abductor could be someone she knew or a stranger.
The third is Beth, wanting more ingredients for the celebration, decided to walk to Walmart. Unfortunately, something or someone intercepted her before she could reach the store.
Vincent and Donna Pagliacetti refuse to believe Beth ran away to start a new life. Instead, they feared foul play was more likely and said Beth would not need much convincing to let a stranger into her house or get into someone’s car.
Regardless, the closure will not remove the indescribable agony both parents felt from Beth’s abrupt vanishing. So they continue to grieve, honor, search for their missing daughter, and stay hopeful of a resolution.
In 2018, the Abalone apartments, where Beth and Coy had lived, were destroyed by the forces of Hurricane Michael. The very last place where Beth was seen alive now lies in ruins.
Investigators constantly revisit Beth’s case. In 2021, Lt. Jeremy Mathis confirmed there was evidence that could blossom into leads if given the right technology. All findings are in the Sheriff’s Office evidence room, but there are no public developments as of 2022.
“We don’t forget about these cases; they don’t go away, this is still an open case, and we would love to be able to provide some closure to the family,” Lt. Mathis told MyPanhandle.
If you have any information regarding the disappearance of Elizabeth Iris Prescott, please contact Lt. Jeremy Mathis of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office at 850–747–4700.