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Man Found Dead Behind Walmart Is Identified as Mathew Talacko, 25, Victim of Inhalants

| July 8, 2015

Mathew talacko found dead in Palm Coast

Mathew Talacko, in a Facebook image from mid-December.

He was a big man–he stood 6’6”–who could muster big smiles, big hopes, a searching intelligence and, apparently, great despair. The evening of July 1, he posted on his Facebook page, for what proved to be the last time, a meme that he had already posted in February, and that said: “Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be.”

“Amen,” is all he wrote. Amen may have been the last word Mathew Talacko wrote. He died sometime soon after that.

The Sheriff’s Office this afternoon identified the man found dead in a pond behind Walmart on July 4 as Talacko, 25, of 87 Patric Drive in Palm Coast. The office identified him shortly after the News-Journal’s Matt Bruce first did so earlier today, after a call to the medical examiner’s office.

“The investigation revealed that Talacko was reported missing by relatives on July 2 and that he has a history of narcotics use. The cause of death has not been determined,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement, “however, no foul play is suspected in this

Just last January he’d been arrested on charges of possessing inhalants. He ended up facing additional charges for violating his probation and his conditions of pre-trial release, though he ended up with six months’ probation in May, a sentence that would have been over by November.

The incident report on the discovery had been heavily redacted before Talacko’s identity was ascertained. An unredacted copy of the report, made available this afternoon, indicates that a grandparent of Talacko found his body “in the canal behind Walmart.” A deputy then contacted Talacko’s mother, who said she last saw her son on June 30, that he had a history of substance abuse such as inhalants, and that he would hang out in the woods to “get high.” A missing person’s report was completed on July 2, because Talacko was not in the habit of disappearing for very long.

Talacko’s mother, the report notes, “stated that she decided to check the wooded area behind Walmart this morning [that is, on July 4] because Matthew use to frequent that area.” The man’s mother said her father located the body near the canal and called authorities. A deputy at the scene observed the body in the water. “A pair of black skateboard shoes were located on the side of the canal,” the report states, “along with a pack of cigarettes and three cans of aerosol keyboard cleaner was located in the canal, along with what appeared to be two bottle of orange juice.”

The report adds that when Walmart employees reviewed surveillance video, they saw Talacko in the store on July 1 at about 5:30 a.m., walking out of the store without paying for the keyboard cleaner. The surveillance video also shows him walking around the store and entering the woods.

It was that evening that he made his last two Facebook posts, his penultimate one a bit less profound than his very last, but reflective of what must have been a resilient sense of humor: “Not sure if I need sex, sleep, or to punch someone in the face.” To that, he’d appended a simple “Lol.”

His mother identified the shoes at the scene as his, but more positive identification could not be made: even the spiderweb tattoos on both his hands were not identifiable, which explains why strict, positive identification was delayed.

Talacko’s Facebook page in stretches reads like the journal of a self-searching man on the run from anguish and on the lookout for any kind of radiance, whether the glow of a campfire (which he preferred to a nightclub) or the flickering hope of a reassuring saying. “The acceptance of your darkness allows you to create a greater strength in your light,” he’d posted from a website in late March, days after posting something about being off the grid, and something about the top regrets people make on their deathbed. He had none of the snarkiness or meanness so often associated with social media postings. Even his introspection read like an attempt to share a personal struggle.

In his last days he’d quoted Einstein (“I have no special talent. I am passionately curious”), Helen Keller (“The world is full of suffering but it is also full of people overcoming it”), Gandhi, Skinner and Napoleon Hill (“Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting”). He’d reminded someone, as he must have so often, that his name–misspelled in recent media reports and in the sheriff’s release, but not in his court docket–is spelled with one t. And on Easter, he’d wished his friends “much love on this day of suffering past.”

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60 Responses for “Man Found Dead Behind Walmart Is Identified as Mathew Talacko, 25, Victim of Inhalants”

  1. This is getting out of hand …another one? So sad

  2. Very sad. Prayers for the family left behind.

  3. Sad praying for his family

  4. Mary Porat says:

    Praying for his family. How sad.

  5. Sad….prayers to the family.

  6. How very sad that he didn’t feel he could seek support but chose to end his life rather than fighting. My condolences to his family.

  7. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

  8. Very sad. Prayers to his family

  9. Very sad I hope his family fines peace

  10. Sad. Praying for his family.

  11. So Sad, Prayers for the Family

  12. 2003 we lost our son at 27…sad

  13. Anonymous says:

    My condolences to this young man’s family. R.I.P..

  14. Bon Bell says:

    Heartbreaking. Deepest condolences to his family.

  15. Julie Ann says:

    Just so sad. Prayers for this family

  16. We need to #CrushTheStigma of mental health/substance abuse. By the sounds of his postings it sounds like it was a great mind gone too soon.

    I hope and pray for a loving community around his mother and family.

    And thanks Flagler Live for looking at the individual and sharing a different story than could have been told.

    #HeWasMore……. I hope he knew that. Amen.

  17. So sad… Praying for his family.

  18. I want to thank all of you for your thought and prayers. My son was gentleman one of of finest human beings I have ever known. Unfortunately, he had evils haunting him inside that he could not control. He will be in my heart and soul for eternity.

    • I am so sorry for your loss!!

    • Sorry for your loss… Wish he could have fought the evils inside, hopefully he is at peace now though.

    • I couldn’t imagine, your family is in our thoughts ♡

    • My very deepest condolences!

    • My deepest condolences…. He is now at peace and I pray for those left behind. Mental illness is heartbreaking for everyone involved <3

    • Muah says:

      Deepest sympathy Wayne, Ashley and your family. I had a chance to meet Mat recently in our recovery community. He was a gentle quiet guy and he wanted recovery so badly. The disease is cunning and insidious. He has been on all of our minds this week and we are continuing to pray for all of you.

    • Laura Paczkowski says:


      I’m so sorry for your loss, I know the pain of losing a child. I’ve never met Mathew but you’ve always said what a good caring person he was and that you wanted so much better for him. Our hearts are breaking with this news, as we can directly relate to how evil addiction is. May the strength of God, family and prayer get you through this,

      Laura Kusnerik Paczkowski

    • emily c's mom says:

      I am so very sorry ,to hear of Matt’s passing and your loss. My prayers are with you and the rest of your family. I truly know how hard you have strugglef . May Matt rest at peace with the Lord, void of those demons that haunted him, and may you find solace inGod

  19. He came to our church.we knew he was pained & wanted help. He accepted the Lord in his life & was also baptized.We were fond of him. He is now with more more pain.RIP Mathew & prayers for comfort & peace to your family & friends. ….Jo-Anne from New Way Church

  20. What a sad waste! Prayers for all who love him!

  21. My prayers go out to his family.

  22. Prayers to his family & friends….very sad!

  23. Cyd Weeks says:

    How very sad. May he Rest In Peace. May his family find peace in their hearts one day.

  24. So sorry for your loss..prayers

  25. liz says:

    I am so sorry to hear about this young man. I want to let the family know that I know the pain and struggles you must have encountered during his troubled time as a addict. My daughter almost lost her like the same way with this horrible choice of drug. The burns on her body, the paramedics called so many times to revive her..finding dozens of can in her car and rooms…the soiled clothes…she lost so much only to take away her pain. She was put in rehabs so many times and they just didn’t know how to handle this dirty addiction…she has been clean for three years now or rather believe she has. She got her cans from Walmart and Walgreens but after spending days at target in the parking lot as a missing person..she asked for help there…she did the same thing and did not pay for most of them…she also would do them alone….my heart was breaking the whole time and I am sure yours was too…I think he just wanted to feel nothing and God must have said enough and took him home. At least I would like to believe that..I tried to get Walmart and target to pull them off there end caps or make them sign a paper…they would only sell them for 5 bucks, but as you can see that never happened. I also wrote to my congressman and nothing…how many have die for them to open there eyes and see there is a problem…..sad so sad ans so sorry for your loss…God bless

  26. Prayers go out to the family so sad another to young

  27. Prayers for Gods comfort for his family & all who love him…

  28. Sad. Prayers to his Family.

  29. So sad. This kid was apparently reaching out for help and know one saw it. Sad just sad

  30. DoubleGator says:

    Very sad. Condolences to his family. Some people ignore the world around them and a few others try and make sense of it. Trying to make sense of it is a great struggle. Mathew, thinking and caring. was the type of person the world needs more of. RIP

  31. Ashley says:

    This is my brother and my best friend, he was a great man who lost his way… We have tried to help him and as some of you may know, you can’t make a addict change.. We truly believe he wanted to get clean but his heart was just hurting to bad and too heavy to stay clean.. He just wanted something to mask his pain . He’s been through so much in his life. Thank you all for your sympathy & support. He is no longer suffering & that’s the only thing making this bearable for our family.. Being a addict doesn’t make you a bad person.. I love you Mathew!

    • getwithit says:

      Ashley I am truly sorry for your loss. May Mathew finally rest in peace. I lost my brother in 2008 and it is very painful. It is so wonderful that you have the support of others while going through this time.

  32. John says:

    Just so you all know, this was a death by drowning. It was not a death from inhalants. Those small canisters are filled with nitrous oxide and a big hit can make you pass out for a short period. They are not medical grade so they may be “dirty”.

  33. Charles "Bub" Robson says:

    Huffing and like type behavior is deadly. All those type chemicals should be locked up like the cigarettes, so they can’t be taken. One of the big box stores I patrolled at in Volusia County had the adjacent wooded lots littered with empty paint cans and other type aerosol cans that were abused by people. It was common to see those people with paint around their mouths. RIP Mathew.

  34. Ashley says:

    Thank you everyone for your kind words. My brother was a great man with a huge heart..

  35. Vincent Neri says:

    If we as a society begin to understand that people matter and are not expendable then we might start colllectively working together to help those that are hurting in a more impactful way. We live in a society where money is more important than people. When young people die like this we have failed as a community. A school system that cannot find a way to put a bright mind to use is a failure. A legal system that wants to arrest, charge, and incarcerate those that are crying out for help is a failure. A medical community that only cares about money when deciding to help is a failure. Companies that will no longer mentor and view their role as profit machines over enterprise where people matter are failures. Where does one end up when every place and person they turn to fails them? I guess you just cannot keep going along the same way and expect a different result America. All the cries for help do not matter unless people listen and are willing to step outside their comfort zone to make a difference.

  36. nomad says:

    Wouldn’t legalizing marijuana serve as a safe and affordable alternative for those needing relief? And without the stigma, too?

    Vincent, you are spot on. Johann Hari, one of my favourite ex-Guardian journalists, who lost his job because of his open criticism of British politicians and govt policies, has written a beautiful and fascinating book on drug addiction and the drug policies of major countries. I haven’t read the book, yet, but I have read subsequent articles and interviews of his on this subject.

    Here is an excerpt of an interview he gave to Democracy Now:

    “Addiction is an adaption to your environment[…]

    You get a rat, and you put it in a cage, and it’s got two water bottles. One is just water, and one is water laced with either heroin or cocaine. If you do that, the rat will almost always prefer the drugged water and almost always kill itself. And so, it was concluded, there you go: That’s addiction.

    But in the ’70s, Bruce comes along and says, “Well, hang on a minute. We’re putting the rat in an empty cage. It’s got nothing to do except drink the drugged water. Let’s do this differently.” So Bruce built Rat Park. Rat Park is like heaven for rats. They’ve got loads of cheese—actually, I don’t think it’s cheese; it’s some very nice food that rats like—loads of colored balls, loads of friends. They can have loads of sex. Anything a rat can want, it’s got in Rat Park. And they’ve got both the water bottles: They’ve got the normal water and the drugged water. But here’s the fascinating thing. They obviously try both the water bottles; they don’t know what’s in them. They don’t like the drugged water. The rats in Rat Park use very little of it. They never overdose. And they never use in a way that looks like addiction or compulsion, which is fascinating. There’s a really interesting human example—there’s loads of human examples, […]

    We have created a society where huge numbers of our fellow citizens can’t bear to be present in their lives and have to medicate themselves to get through the day with these drugs. You know, there’s nothing—a hypercapitalist, hyperindividualist society makes people feel like the rats in that first cage, that they’re cut off, they’re cut off from the source. I mean, there’s nothing—as Bruce explains, there’s nothing in human evolution that prepares us for being as isolated as the—you know, as the ideal citizen of a hypercapitalist, hyperconsumerist country like yours and mine.”

  37. Nicole Chernishov says:

    Since you shared the article I’ve been thinking of you. I don’t know what to say. Much love, Nicole

  38. Bec says:

    I think that everybody is jumping to the conclusion that he killed himself which is what I think but my friend doesn’t think he over dosed because they should’ve found drugs in his system I just wanna know what happened so sad sorry

    Deepest condolences from me and my friend

    Rip mat good man

  39. Layla says:

    Beautiful article about a lost and struggling soul…so much potential gone. I am so sorry for his family, his friends and all who loved him. You have our prayers. This is a loss for us all.

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