Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Public safety

Name of dead man found floating near Mahaffey Theater released

ST. PETERSBURG — Police have released the name of the man whose body was found Thursday evening floating in the water across the street from the Mahaffey Theater.

George Lee Babec, 72, lived at the MLF Towers senior housing complex in downtown St. Petersburg.

Police are waiting for a report from the Medical Examiner's Office about the cause of death, but say there are no indications of foul play.

A passer-by saw Babec's body about 5:15 p.m. near the 300 block of Bayshore Drive SE and called authorities. Police spokesman Mike Puetz said he did not appear to have been in the water for long. He was wearing a jogging-type outfit and had identification on him.

"Nobody saw him go in the water," Puetz said.

Police have not been able to locate any relatives

Babec had lived at MLF Towers, at 540 Second Ave. S, for nine years, said property manager Barbara Jarboe.

Jarboe said he liked to exercise and often took walks. She described him as a "nice man."

"Everyone here was surprised," she said. "He will be missed."

Records show Babec served about a year in federal prison in the early 1990s for fraud against businesses, people and banks in multiple states. Authorities said he and his wife at the time were involved in identity theft, according to published reports in the Orlando Sentinel.

Anyone who might have known the man is asked to contact investigator Brenda Stevenson at (727) 893-4207.

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