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An unfortunate case of like father, like son

About a year-and-a-half after the family patriarch disappeared from his Merced home, the Sorianos are looking for another loved one.

Joseph Soriano, 55, a lifelong Mercedian, has been missing since Aug. 5. He was reported missing Aug. 31 to Merced police and the lead detective on the case says there's little to go on with his disappearance.

His father, Anthony Soriano, 86, went missing Jan. 6, 2006, during his regular walk across town; his body was found March 2 in an irrigation ditch in the Le Grand area. Joseph Soriano, one of Soriano's 11 children, could be in either Stockton or the Imperial Valley, his sister believes.

Detective Rod Court of the Merced Police Department said fliers about Soriano's disappearance have been sent to the Stockton area. Cmdr. Tom Martin said there is no indication of foul play with the missing man but they don't know what happened to him.

Olivia Gonzales, Soriano's sister, said Soriano had been under a doctor's care for an unspecified ailment but had suffered from cirrhosis and hepatitis. She said Soriano's girlfriend, who she only knows as Sharon, last saw him Aug. 5, and he hadn't attempted to pick up his Social Security check. The girlfriend would help Soriano with his laundry and take him to pay bills.

Soriano is described as 5 feet, 5 inches tall, balding and weighing 150 pounds. Gonzales said he may have taken a bus to either Stockton or Imperial Valley and might have run out of money. She said it's possible he may have become disoriented and is not taking his regular medication.

Gonzales said Soriano was living on his own and "doing all right." When she went to his East Santa Fe Avenue apartment, his keys were sitting on a table. Relatives have since given up the apartment, and he hasn't claimed his September Social Security check.

"It's the same thing all over with my father. What are the odds? This is so terrible it has happened two times. We figured he would have come back by now but so far no luck. It's not like him to take off," Gonzales said.

Gonzales said Soriano had taken a bus trip to Sacramento before but always came back. In the past he has borrowed others' telephones to let relatives know where he was. Years ago Soriano used to work at the California Canners and Growers' cannery on Kibby Road.

Martin said Soriano had a longtime problem with heroin and was often seen around 12th and R streets. Anyone who knows where Soriano is is urged to call police at 385-6912.

Merced County Sheriff's Department deputies theorize Soriano's father Anthony became disoriented and walked beyond his normal crosstown Merced trek and possibly collapsed. He was a retired truck driver and employee at California Canners and Growers.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or dyawger@mercedsun-star.com. Reporter Scott Jason contributed to this report.

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