Fisherman shares experience of finding human remains near Goodland

CCSO seeks assistance in identifying man

The remains of a dead man were found less than 100 yards from SR 92 roadway May 30, near this transformer about three miles northwest of the Goodland Bridge.

Photo by NADINE OUILLETTE, Staff // Buy this photo

The remains of a dead man were found less than 100 yards from SR 92 roadway May 30, near this transformer about three miles northwest of the Goodland Bridge.

A fisherman from Naples and his friend of LaBelle found the remains of a dead man Saturday near a path that is accessible under the posts of this transformer and leads down to the water where the men had been fishing. Edward Griffin, 53, of Naples, said the body was closer to the road than water and looked to him as if it must have been dumped there.

Photo by NADINE OUILLETTE, Staff // Buy this photo

A fisherman from Naples and his friend of LaBelle found the remains of a dead man Saturday near a path that is accessible under the posts of this transformer and leads down to the water where the men had been fishing. Edward Griffin, 53, of Naples, said the body was closer to the road than water and looked to him as if it must have been dumped there.

The remains of a dead man were found less than 100 yards from SR 92 roadway May 30, near this transformer about three miles northwest of the Goodland Bridge.

Photo by NADINE OUILLETTE, Staff // Buy this photo

The remains of a dead man were found less than 100 yards from SR 92 roadway May 30, near this transformer about three miles northwest of the Goodland Bridge.

— What was to be a relaxing day fishing with a buddy on Saturday became an unsettling experience for Edward Griffin, 52, of Naples. He and friend A.V. Robertson of La Belle, Fla., went fishing near Goodland in the early afternoon.

They were fishing off a path along State Road 92. On their way back to their truck they saw a body drooped over the mangroves, Griffin said.

The two had fished in a spot they hadn’t been to in several years, which is a couple miles northwest of the Goodland Bridge, he said.

They parked their truck and walked to the fishing location at about 1 p.m.

“We didn’t even see the body until we came back,” Griffin said.

He told police he had first smelled a foul odor, but believed it may have been a nearby dead vulture.

About an hour later, the fishermen walked back along the path, returning to their truck and saw what appeared to be a body in the mangroves.

“It just didn’t look like a place a man would be,” Griffin said.

The body, which was decomposed to the extent of making identification difficult, was located closer to the roadway than the water and not in a place Griffin said would normally be walked to by a man.

“It had to have been dumped from the road. It isn’t a place a homeless man would live. There is nothing there. If you’re familiar with the look of mangroves and roots, it blended in, the way it was drooped.”

Investigators are asking for the public’s help in identifying the man.

An autopsy was conducted Sunday, but a cause of death could not be determined due to the condition of the body, investigators said.

Investigators were still waiting Tuesday on some fingerprint examinations to be completed.

Investigators said the man was between 5-feet, 11-inches and 6-feet, 2-inches tall. His race and age have yet to be determined.

Griffin described the skin as white, but said he couldn’t be sure due to the extent of decomposition.

The deceased man appeared to be missing an upper front tooth and may have had an abscess in his lower left jaw, the Sheriff’s Office reported in a prepared release Wednesday. He had a surgically inserted metal pin in his left hand, investigators said.

He was wearing extra-large-size black cotton shorts that tied at the waist and possibly had paint stains, investigators said.

Griffin said the experience of finding the human remains continues to be unsettling.

“The way it was drooped, face-up, over the mangroves. No hair, no shoes, no pants, just dark shorts, like under-shorts,” he said.

“I don’t see how he could have wandered in there by himself. It’s been running through my mind ever since. I’m checking the news, listening to everything. I’m hoping to get some closure on it,” Griffin said, Wednesday.

Around 2 p.m., Saturday, deputies responded to State Road 92, north of the Goodland bridge, about 6 miles south of U.S. 41. The body was in a culvert about 100 feet from State Road 92 and other than the black shorts on the body, no other clothing was found on or near the body, officers wrote in the incident report.

The culvert was behind a large transformer tower on the south side of the road, officers reported.

A death investigation continues.

“As to whether the investigation is being treated as a wrongful death or homicide, since we’re unable to determine the cause of death at this time, we’re not sure how to treat this yet,” said Collier County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kristi Lester.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Collier County Sheriff’s Office at 252-9300, or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477).

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