It was not a suicide. It was not a natural death: the man found dead behind the house at 16 Covington Lane last week was murdered, the Medical Examiner determined today.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is not releasing the exact way in which the man was murdered because it has not yet identified him, and is seeking to use that information in interviews to be conducted in coming days. The body of the man was badly decomposed when the next-door neighbor, who had gone walking on a trail along the marsh behind the property, reported a strong odor on Friday afternoon. The Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene around 3 p.m., roped off the property, and waited for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s mobile crime lab to arrive.
The Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in identifying the man, or providing any lead that may lead to his identification.
“We are asking anyone who may think they may know this man to give us a call,” Sheriff Jim Manfre said. “Our investigation is continuing, but we would like to be able to notify next of kin. Someone out there is missing a loved one.”
The Sheriff’s Office, however, is releasing very little, including the time of death of the victim. The strongest clue about the case so far–at least the strongest clue that’s been made public–is that a 59 or 60-year old man who was living with the owner at 16 Covington Lane until late December had suddenly and inexplicably gone missing, and remains missing.
On Dec. 31, the home owner, Daniel Kochevar, placed a call to Flagler County Dispatch to report that the man who’d been staying with him for a year, and who is “normally a homebody,” had disappeared. Kochevar told authorities he’d last seen him two weeks before. Kochevar himself had left town over the holidays. The missing man, known so far only as “Denny,” had been looking for another place to live, because the homeowner himself was planning to move out. Kochevar, who told dispatch that he’d known the man for 20 years, said he he thought Denny would have called him had he decided to move elsewhere.
No images of the missing man have been made available. Aside from that call to dispatch, no missing-man report was filed.
For now, Lt. Bob Weber, the sheriff’s office spokesman, said there have been no arrests. “The only indication I got was that they were conducting interviews,” Weber said of detectives. The body remains at the Medical Examiner’s office in St. Augustine, pending identification and notification of next-of-kin.
Asked of the likelihood that the missing man and the murdered man are the same, Weber said: “That would be a possibility, but we don’t know that for certain.”
The missing man and the victim both match the same rough description: middle aged, white, male.
For Palm Coast or Flagler County, the man’s death is the first homicide of 2013, according to the sheriff’s office, but even that may have to be revised: the decomposition of the man suggests that his murder may, in fact, have taken place in late 2012.
The last murder in the county took place on March 20, 2011, at 21 Barkwood Lane in Palm Coast, when David Sharp, 52, killed his wife, Terry Sharp, 54, then turned a gun on himself. A Flagler Beach man, Paul Miller, is facing second-degree murder charges subsequent to his shooting to death neighbor Dana Mulhall last spring in Flagler Beach.
Anyone who has information on the Covington Lane case, or who may be able to identify the victim, is asked to call Crimestoppers at 1/888-277-8477.