TAMPA, Fla. - The first red flag for the Hughes family was a photo of Charlie Hughes' submerged rental car off a dirt road in rural Costa Rica.
"Charlie is a city boy," said younger brother Barry Hughes. "His lifestyle, the way he's been his entire life. He doesn't go in the woods."
The photo was the first Costa Rican authorities released to the Hughes family after the Tampa man went missing while on vacation in Puerto Jiménez. Charlie was returning to visit a man he'd recently met on his first trip to the Central American country.
"He'd recently been on a vacation there with his friend, Tiffany," Barry said. "They decided to spend 10 days in Central America, and apparently he'd met this young many down there and when they came back, he decided he wanted to go back and spend more time."
They believe the man played a part in Charlie's disappearance. In a phone interview with FOX 13 News, David Hughes, another family member, tells us he's learned the local man his brother met has a questionable reputation.
"[Charlie's friend Tiffany's] impression of this man was that he seemed almost like a scam artist," David said. "My brother, I don't think, picked up on that. The bar in which he met him, even the bar owner, apparently told Tiffany to stay away from this young man, that he was trouble."
The family says the story from the friend keeps changing as the weeks have passed.
"I'm skeptical because of the way the story keeps changing and evolving in response to us rather than telling us what happened," Barry said.
Charlie iss one of five siblings, a tech-savvy traveler who kept his family in the know throughout every vacation.
"He constantly was telling about his trip, and the things he had done, and where they were going next," Barry said. "Always letting somebody know what was going on."
The last they heard from him was Friday, August 3.
"We saw he had charges on his credit card up until Friday evening, and then nothing," Barry said. "It stopped dead."
The family is now working with the FBI and a missing persons group called Texas EquuSearch, which has a team en route to Costa Rica.
"I want the truth above all else," Barry said. "We want to know what happened to our brother."