ST. PETERSBURG — A woman was found dead Wednesday afternoon in the same canal where a teen boy was found dead last week.
Despite the close proximity of the deaths, Pinellas sheriff's officials said neither is suspicious. "There's no connection," said sheriff's spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda. "They're not related, just happen to be in the same place."
A nurse at the Jacaranda Manor nursing facility, 4250 66th St. N, spotted the body of Susan Janet Hendricks, 56, just after noon in the canal on the south side of the building, authorities said. Ten days ago, authorities found 17-year-old Manuel Vivanco's body in the same canal.
It was not clear how either of them ended up in the water. The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner's Office has completed an autopsy on Vivanco and will do the same for Hendricks, officials said. Vivanco's cause of death has not been released as officials await toxicology results.
David Duggan, Hendricks' boyfriend for more than 13 years, said he last saw her Wednesday morning as she left the mobile home they shared off 46th Avenue N. She was going to a nearby Publix, he said. Early in the afternoon, a sheriff's deputy arrived at their home and broke the news.
"I'm just devastated," Duggan said. "I don't know what I'm going to do without her."
Duggan, a former cab driver, made news in 2009 after former Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Aqib Talib allegedly punched him in the face while being driven from St. Petersburg to Tampa. Duggan later won a settlement.
On Wednesday night, he sat in the living room of the tidy mobile home. Between bouts of tears and sips from a can of Natural Light, he recalled the woman he said was the love of his life.
She was a seamstress who hemmed miniature dresses, he said. She loved animals and adopted a stray cat, which she named Princess.
She and Duggan were married once, briefly. But they stayed together despite the divorce.
She struggled with bipolar disorder and alcoholism, Duggan said. She recently had spinal surgery and took pain pills.
Upon hearing what happened, Duggan went to the canal where she was found. Her wallet and other belongings were strewn on the sidewalk on a bridge over the canal. A shopping cart stood abandoned next to a guardrail. In the cart was a bottle of vodka.
Duggan said he thinks Hendricks was walking home and sat on the guardrail to have a drink. There were marks on the ground where he thinks she slipped and fell in.
On Wednesday evening, a yellow cross and some flowers sat along the canal bank about 50 yards from the guardrail — presumably left in memory of Vivanco. The Tampa Bay Times has been unable to reach his family.
Neighbors said passers-by occasionally go fishing in the canal, but otherwise the area is not heavily trafficked.
"They didn't tell me someone else died there a week ago," Duggan said. "I find it strange."
Dan Sullivan can be reached at (727) 893-8321 or firstname.lastname@example.org.