A New Canaan man who Danbury police said regularly bought narcotics from homicide victim Mario Imbesi has emerged as a suspect in the slaying of the 43-year-old plant manager at Imbesi's Farview Avenue apartment in March, according to court documents.

The man, who is not being identified because he hasn't been charged with a crime, exchanged more than 500 telephone calls and text messages with Imbesi in the six weeks prior to Imbesi's death and, the day after the killing, pawned gold jewelry similar to items Imbesi owned, according to a search warrant affidavit made public Monday at state Superior Court in Danbury.

The document indicates that investigators were seeking the New Canaan man's cell phone records in an attempt to identify possible co-conspirators.

The eight-page affidavit also contains numerous details about the crime that police hadn't previously released, including information from a person described only as "a close associate" of the victim, who said Imbesi received a shipment of 400 OxyContin tablets a few days before he was killed. Police said the pills cost $25 apiece, giving the shipment an estimated value of $10,000.

The associate also said Imbesi usually kept the drugs and the gold jewelry in the same strongbox, which was not listed on a lengthy inventory of items police recovered from the apartment on the day Imbesi's body was found.

But a witness, apparently another resident of the building where Imbesi lived, told detectives that he saw two men, both about 30 years old, in the vicinity of Imbesi's apartment sometime after 11:20 p.m. on March 15, the date investigators believe he was killed.

One of the males was carrying what appeared to be a medium-sized square box, covered by a white garbage bag, according to the search warrant.

A few minutes earlier, the witness told police, he heard a thud from Imbesi's apartment, followed by sounds of a brief struggle.

Other residents also told investigators they had seen a black pickup truck in the parking lot that evening, a vehicle that roughly matched the description of one the New Canaan man had been riding in when he purchased drugs from Imbesi several weeks earlier, the victim's "close associate" said in the affidavit.

Investigators said they believe that the killer or killers met Imbesi when he returned to his second-floor apartment after leaving a birthday party for his mother in Port Chester, N.Y., on the evening of March 15. They shoved him through the doorway, then beat him repeatedly with a "pipe like object until he collapsed and died," investigators said in the warrant.

Imbesi's body was discovered the next day when a co-worker, concerned because he hadn't shown up for work, went to the complex, asked the manager to open the door and found him face down on the floor.

Imbesi was a plant manager at ATP, a Bethel-based printed tape manufacturing company.

A check of Imbesi's cellphone records revealed a number of text messages between the victim and the New Canaan man "that were clearly communications related to drug trafficking" and indicated that the man "seemed to be increasingly desperate in the days leading up" to the homicide, the affidavit said.

The messages indicated that Imbesi had told the New Canaan man that he was due to receive a shipment of OxyContin shortly before he was killed.

Police also said they believe the killer or killers damaged a lock on an exterior door to the apartment building several days earlier to allow easier access to Imbesi's apartment.

The "attempted burglary," as detectives Dan Trompetta and Craig Martin called it in the warrant, is believed to have occurred between 1 and 3 a.m. March 11, the same time and day that records of a second cellphone owned by the New Canaan man showed he was "in close proximity" to the victim's apartment, according to the affidavit.

A court official said Monday that police have filed two other search warrant applications related to the Imbesi case. Both those documents will remain sealed until 14 days after an arrest is made, according to court records.

jpirro@newstimes.com; 203-731-3342