Car with man's body found in river
By REBECCA CATALANELLO
Published May 24, 2006
TAMPA - Tampa police pulled a muddied green Acura from the waters of the Hillsborough River Tuesday afternoon and found a dead man inside.
Capt. Jill Ramsten said it would take a medical examiner's report to positively identify the man.
But Terri Wigfall, 44, and Troy Johnson, 35, of Tampa, were certain the car was the one their cousin, Freddie Lee Johnson, had been driving the morning he disappeared. They hurried to the scene on the riverbank after seeing the car being extracted in a report on the 6 p.m. news.
Ramsten confirmed that it was the same.
The news left Johnson's relatives reeling.
"It's bad," Wigfall said as she stood on the west bank of the river, searching for information and occasionally breaking down in tears. "That's the car he was driving."
Johnson, 34, was last seen leaving his Robles Park apartment at 2:30 a.m. on April 30, bound for his sister's house in West Tampa, police said. Relatives said he was on his way to babysit his sister's four granddaughters. But he never showed.
Rescue divers searched that section of the river about three weeks ago after getting calls from residents, Tampa police spokesman Larry McKinnon said.
But they found nothing.
Ramsten said the divers returned to search the waters again after police received a tip that the car could be found there.
Ernesto Moreno, 18, said he and his father called police after noticing that some of the signs at the end of the street had been destroyed.
Staff photographer Brian Cassella contributed to this story.
[Last modified May 24, 2006, 04:27:44]
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