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Body found in city canal identified

The Sheriff's Office calls the death of the Floral City man missing since New Year's Eve "suspicious.'' A neighbor found his body last week.

By CARRIE JOHNSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 22, 2002

FLORAL CITY -- The man found floating in a murky Floral City canal Friday has been identified as Bryan Blanton, the 29-year-old who has been missing since New Year's Eve.

There was no sign of trauma on the body, and an autopsy failed to reveal the cause of death, said Lt. Joe Eckstein of the Citrus County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators are now waiting for the results of a toxicology test, which is conducted by the state Medical Examiner's Office and can take between four and six weeks.

The death has been labeled as "suspicious" by the Sheriff's Office, Eckstein said.

Eckstein said authorities don't know how long the body had been in the water before it was discovered by a neighbor behind a house on Big Buck Trail, just a few doors away from Blanton's residence.

The neighbor dialed 911 about 3 p.m. Friday, and members of the Sheriff's Office dive team were called to retrieve the body.

Blanton was reported missing on Jan. 2 by his brother, Josh Blanton, who also lives at the Big Buck Trail residence, Eckstein said.

Josh Blanton told investigators his brother left the residence on foot at 4 a.m. Dec. 31. The Sheriff's Office put out an all-points bulletin and conducted foot and helicopter searches of the area.

Blanton also lived with his girlfriend of 10 years, Rhonda Trusty, and her father, Ronald.

Friends and family members gathered Monday at Blanton's Big Buck Trail residence, near Trail's End Road, refused to comment.

The case is still under investigation by the Sheriff's Office, Eckstein said.

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