Personnel from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and the Hernando County Fire Rescue have been investigating circumstances connected to an initially unidentified body found floating in the Withlacoochee River by a pair canoeing down the river on Sunday.
HCSO Spokesperson Denise Moloney said that just before 1 p.m. on Sept. 17, a resident at 33038 Ranch Rd. in Dade City reported that he was in his backyard when two people in a canoe flagged him down to say that they had spotted a body floating in the Withlacoochee River.
The canoeing pair then continued down the river.
Later, crews from the Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) tried to locate the pair but were unsuccessful.
HCFR used an airboat to locate the body of the adult male just a few feet from the Pasco County line and took it to shore at the Ranch Road location.
There, HCSO detectives and forensics specialists determined that the body had been in the water for some time and was in the advanced stages of decomposition. An autopsy will determine the exact cause of the man’s death.
Meanwhile, members of the HCSO Marine Unit used an airboat to search the riverbank for any evidence related to the death.
Detectives have been in contact with both the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) and the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) about the case.
Throughout the day on Sept. 18, detectives worked to identify the body of the deceased man, which has various distinct scars, marks, and tattoos on it. Investigators did determine the identity of the man but will not disclose it due to Marsy’s Law.
They believe the man’s death did involve foul play, as indicated by a preliminary investigation into the body.
The victim’s next of kin has been notified, and investigators are following up on several leads.
Anyone who has any information about the case should call the HCSO Major Case Unit at 352-754-6830.
Tipsters may also call Hernando County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-990-TIPS (8477), text **TIPS from a cell phone, or visit http://www.hernandocountycrimestoppers.com.
All tips to Crime Stoppers are anonymous, and tipsters may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $5,000.