Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Police identify body of man, 38, found in bushes

ST. PETERSBURG — A day after a body was discovered in bushes at a business complex off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street N, police identified the man as 38-year-old Robert John Harger.

It was not immediately clear Friday how Harger died, though police have said it did not seem to be the result of a violent crime.

Harger's brother, Nikolas, said that it did not appear he was robbed because his wallet and personal effects were all on him when he was discovered Thursday morning.

The Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death, police said.

Ryan Walton, 26, was one of two men who discovered the body on the side of Executive Center Drive N amid brush and palm trees. Walton wondered Friday who the man was.

"When I saw him, all I could think was, 'Wow, I can't believe this is happening,'" he said. "It was totally bizarre. I couldn't imagine how he got there."

Walton is a firefighter and Iraq War veteran.

"I've been around death a lot, but for me to come across something like that while I was going about my everyday routine … it was shocking," he said.

The other man, who was walking to work in the complex, called 911, but Walton said he knew it was too late to help the victim.

Police said Harger was a transient, but Nikolas Harger said his brother had been living with a girlfriend in Redington Shores. He said his brother loved the beach and loved to cook. He was working as a waiter.

"He had a big heart," Nikolas Harger said.

Harger leaves behind two siblings and a grown daughter whom he hadn't spoken to in several years.

The family was "in shock" Friday after Harger's sudden death.

According to state records, Harger had a history of drug offenses and assault charges. His family said he had cleaned up his act in recent years.

Marissa Lang can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804.

Police identify body of man, 38, found in bushes 04/20/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 20, 2012 8:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Empire' star Grace Byers keynotes USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy luncheon

    Human Interest


    TAMPA — The first University of South Florida graduate to address the USF's Women in Leadership & Philanthropy supporters, Grace Gealey Byers, class of 2006, centered her speech on her first name, turning it into a verb to share life lessons.

    Grace Byers, University of South Florida Class of 2006, stars on the Fox television show Empire. She delivered the keynote at the USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy luncheon Friday. Photo by Amy Scherzer
  2. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  3. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  4. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  5. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.