Saturday, July 21, 2018
Public safety

FHP believes body found in marsh is missing Spring Hill resident Paul Marvella

"We do believe it is him," said FHP Lt. Pat Riordan.

He cautioned that no official identification has been made. The remains were sent to the Medical Examiner's Office in Alachua County for identification.

JOHN ROMANO: A search for the son who never came home

Marvella's disappearance perplexed his family.

A driver for a company that transported the deceased, he had dropped off a body in Jacksonville late on a Sunday afternoon. According to a credit card bill, he had dinner at a Zaxby's and then called a friend around 7:30 p.m. while driving near Starke.

That was the last time anybody heard from him. For two days, Marvella's parents drove up and down U.S. 301 in Bradford County. His father, George Marvella, eventually got out of the car and walked the side of the road to search for clues.

He hired an airplane to circle the area, hoping to find his son's black GMC Yukon sport-utility vehicle hidden from the main roads. Their first real break came when a wireless provider said the last ping from Paul Marvella's cellphone came somewhere near Gainesville.

It took law enforcement, hired airplanes and search parties nearly four days to find the Yukon's bumper floating in a lake off I-75. It took another four days of dredging and diving in alligator-infested waters before officials called off the search for his body.

Undeterred, Marvella's family arranged for excavation equipment to search the water on Tuesday. The family was at the site when the body was recovered.

"I think the father felt relieved," Riordan said. "They can start moving on and bring some closure and have a proper burial."

The family could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

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