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Escambia Bay body identified

3-19-2012 Florida:

A preliminary identification has been made regarding the body boaters discovered Saturday morning in Escambia Bay.

Investigators used a GPS ankle monitor to tentatively identify the body found as the remains of Patrick Willingham, 29, of Pensacola.

According to Sgt. Scott Haines with the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, Willingham was on a GPS monitor through State Probation in Escambia County as he was a register sex offender.

Willingham, who had been reported missing to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office on Dec. 22 of last year by his family.

Officers with the Florida Highway Patrol discovered Willingham’s abandoned vehicle just east of the 17-mile marker on the Escambia Bay Bridge, Dec. 21.

According to Haines, Willingham’s GPS monitor last transmitted on Dec. 20, at 9 a.m. from the top of the Escambia Bay Bridge.

State Probation received a notification that Willingham had travelled too far from his base unit and the monitor could not be tracked.

No foul play is suspected in Willingham’s death, according to Haines, but the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office is continuing its investigation.

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit checked the area with boats on Dec. 22 and the Florida Wildlife Commission checked the waterways on Dec. 28, but both searches were met with negative results.

According to Haines, individuals testing a boat discovered the body floating in Escambia Bay around 11:30 a.m.

The boaters, who were not identified by Haines, remained on the scene until units from Avalon Fire and Rescue, Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office and Lifeguard Ambulance responded to the scene.

Just before 3 p.m. members of Avalon Fire and Rescue, Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida District 1 Medical Examiners Office left Archie Glover Boat Ramp to recover the body.

A positive identification of the body will be done through further analysis of the remains according to Haines.

According to Haines, the body appeared to have been in the bay for a lengthy period of time.

A fisherman, who would not give his name, said he and a fishing partner caught a couple of red fish early Saturday morning near piling 90. Later Saturday morning they returned to the piling to catch more fish when a boat informed them about it being a crime scene.

Despite the investigation, the Archie Glover Boat Ramp was busy with boats being launched for fishing and boating excursions.

"The fog was really intense this morning," said A.J. Ward of Pace, who was fishing with friends Saturday morning. "The fog finally lifted around 11 a.m., but we were back and forth across the bay between the bridge and the train tracks and didn't see anything all morning.

"Early on it was like our own private lake since visibility in some spots was limited to 20 yards and 100 yards in others since the fog was so thick.” ..Source.. by Santa Fosa Press


Anonymous said...

Believe me I can understand why my son committed suicide. It doesn't matter he had no prior record and was very active in he community and church and was seduced by a girl who had done the same thing to a man previously. Not only was he ostracized by society, but his pastor repeatedly told him he must be shamed and humiliated in order to be redeemed. He wasn't depressed as I have been quoted as saying, he was a tortured soul.

Anonymous said...

Because he was a registered sex offender, law enforcement told me they had "more important crimes" than to search the bay for his body.
I would estimate the boat was in the bay less than an hour.
Even after death he remains on FL's sex offender's list, status changed to "deceased", I presume so children can be warned to stay away from ashes rather than the paroled child killer in the neighborhood who doesn't have to register.
Though my son's wallet, ID, cash, uncashed checks, etc were in the car, law enforcement chose to believe he absconded and found time to get subpoenas for even his Facebook page,when they should have been looking for his body before he was eating by fish. He was ID'd by x-rays of his knees so little of him was left.
And when a sex offender "absconds" the US Marshalls are called in. If you've never had them come to your home to question and intimidate you, I can assure you it was not fun. When I told them my son was dead, they preceded to ask if I'd seen or talked to him, asked about my finances, passport, etc and even asked me didn't I want my son to be alive. Many of my friends have said it's a wonder I haven't killed myself, but I might have if I hadn't been so angry by the ugly comments I have heard and read about my son. Yes, some sex offenders do need to be in long term treatment or confinement, but society has become so paranoid that thousands of men are having to register for life who absolutely should not have to.