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Former Lakeland man's remains are identified

The remains of a man found in Port St. John last year have been traced to a former Lakeland car salesman who Brevard County sheriff's detectives say was slain.

John Benson Gavin, 67, was killed and left in a shallow grave in Port St. John, said Brevard sheriff's Detective Carlos Reyes.

Reyes said he couldn't reveal how Gavin was killed because the information could jeopardize the search for the killer.

Detectives discovered the body Oct. 6, 2005. It could have been there two to three months.

For more than a year, detectives tried to identify the victim. On Wednesday, DNA from the remains was found to match Gavin's in a national database, Reyes said.

Gavin, a Lakeland car salesman in the early 1970s with Ray Durdin Chevrolet, now Michael Holley Chevrolet, later became part owner of a dealership in Daytona that fell on hard times.

He became somewhat estranged from his family, said Carolyn Croft, who was divorced from Gavin in 1988. No missing person's report had been filed for him.

Gavin served a nearly seven-year prison term for armed robbery and was released in 2002, according to the Florida Department of Corrections Web site.

Detectives are asking anyone with information about Gavin or his whereabouts in October 2005 to call Reyes at (321) 454-7004 or toll-free at 1-800-423-8477.