QUEENS — The son of a Rego Park woman who has been missing for more than a week was taken into custody Friday morning following a tip from an Uber cab driver who said he believed the son used his car to dump the body in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, police said.
Roman Gorbunov, 21, who investigators said was a person of interest in the case, was picked up in the New Utrecht section of Brooklyn, police said.
He was being questioned, police said, but had not been charged as of Friday morning.
His mother, 58-year-old Lyubova Gorbunova of Rego Park, who immigrated from Uzbekistan and worked as a home health aide, was last seen on Sept. 27 at about 9 a.m., police said.
Two days later, surveillance video captured Gorbunov leaving his mother's building on 62nd Drive, near 98th Street, carrying a suspiciously large garbage bag, police sources said. An Uber driver who said Gorbunov asked him for a ride to Flushing Meadows-Corona Park said the bag smelled like a dead body, sources said. The cabbie called 911 to report the incident, sources said.
But because Gorbunova wasn't reported missing until Oct. 4, police didn't know of any crime — even when Gorbunov was arrested on Sept. 30 for stealing a security monitor from the apartment building where his mother lived, sources said.
He was given a ticket for petty theft and released.
Investigators began piecing together the strange clues after Gorbunova's friend called to report her missing — and interviewed the Uber driver, as well as sending a team of officers to search Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Thursday.
Dozens of police officers, including NYPD divers, scoured an area of Meadow Lake, near Jewel Avenue and the Van Wyck Expressway throughout the day Thursday.
They cordoned off the southern edge of the lake as detectives combed the area.
Officers returned to the scene Friday morning but had not yet found anything, police said.
Gorbunova lived in this Rego Park apartment with her son. (DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska)
Gorbunova’s neighbors said they didn’t know her or her son very well.
“I saw the man a lot, he would come to the laundry room but he never did the laundry there and he never talked to me, he talked on the phone all the time,” said Nelya Doba, 63, who lives directly above the family's apartment. She said she saw Gorbunova only once several months ago when she was entering her apartment.
"I never heard them fighting,” Doba added. “And in the past weeks I didn’t hear any noises from their apartment at all.”
Andres Zuniga, who works at nearby Rego Park Liquors, was one of the last people who saw Gorbunova before she went missing. She came to the store on Sept. 27 with her son to buy two bottles of Kagor, a red dessert wine, Zuniga said.
"He helped her with her bags," he said, adding that he had seen them only a couple of times before that. "I thought they were here only for the summer, visiting relatives. They were always together."