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FWB police investigate man found in water


FORT WALTON BEACH - Investigators are working to identify the man whose body washed up in Fort Walton Beach on Christmas day. The body was found behind a home in the Garnier's Beach neighborhood, on Choctawhatchee Bay.

About one in the afternoon on Christmas day, Fred Doyle was walking down this dock behind his home. He likes to come out here and watch birds. But when he looked down here, right beside these rocks, what he saw was something he could barely believe." 

Now there's just a low spot in the sand. But Fred Doyle saw a man's body, face down and starting to decompose.

"He could have been floating and working back and forth, because.... he didn't have any pants on, okay..... he had it looked like little, maybe, almost a diving slipper on," said Fred Doyle.

Police say it appears the man was in the water for some time. There were no obvious signs of foul play, and the description does not match any missing persons reports. They're running fingerprints and DNA through national databases.

"I always think, that's somebody's baby. Somebody loved that child and brought them to life and now, they're dead and there's nobody here to mourn them, and we don't know who they are," said neighbor Monica Johnson.

The Doyles and their neighbors say Christmas day turned from peaceful to surreal. Family celebrations, with investigators in the backyard. Questions about how someone disappears, without anyone noticing.

"Where are that individual's family? And maybe they didn't have one. Maybe it was a homeless individual. And it's just sad, as to not know the identity," said neighbor Tim Johnson.

The body has been turned over to the medical examiner, who's office will also work on the identification.

Looking out from the dock, you can see how vast Choctawhatchee Bay is. So many places this man might have come from. Anyone with information is asked to call the Fort Walton Beach Police Department.