Disappearance of missing autistic Port St. Lucie man ends in tragedy

Disappearance of missing autistic Port St. Lucie man ends in tragedy (Port St. Lucie Police)

A tragic outcome in the search for a missing 30-year-old autistic man in Port St. Lucie.

First responders found the body of 30-year-old Joshua Marshall in a retention pond on SE Village Green Drive Wednesday around 7 p.m., just a tenth of a mile from where he was last seen. A surveillance camera caught Marshall on camera at around 4 a.m., just about 2 hours before family friends say he ran away from home about a mile away.

Bill Kennedy, a long-time family friend who said he knew Joshua for about 25 years, says Marshall was a “runner” and that’s why they had to make sure locks were working, the sliding glass door was secured and that the garage door was locked. He also said that Marshall loved the water, but didn’t know how to swim.

As soon as Kennedy and Marshall's father discovered he was missing, they called 911.

Port St. Lucie police officers came out in numbers, along with K-9 deputies, and search by ground while the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office chopper searched by air.

They handed out fliers with Marshall’s picture on them pleading with the public to find him so they could take him home.

"It’s killing me,” Kennedy said before grim discovery. He says he had been searching for Marshall since sunrise. “He’s like family. I love this kid.”

Kennedy says he knew exactly how Marshall got out of the house and tried holding back the tears as he described how the 30-year-old was a man who was loved.

"He went out the back door,” Kennedy said as he showed CBS12 News the path he believed Marshall took. “He tried to get out through the garage. But the garage is bolted. Somehow, he got the door open, the stick up and he got out through the back door.”

"This is the worst possible outcome,” said Master Sgt. Frank Sabol with the Port St. Lucie Police Department. “It’s heartbreaking, I know, for the officers and the family. We just didn’t get that crucial tip that we needed.”

Sabol also offered his sincere condolences to the family and said it was a loss for the entire community.

"We really tried to find him,” Sabol said. “It’s a sad day. It’s a sad day in Port St. Lucie.”

Police say they had checked the retention pond where Marshall was found several times, but the water was very murky.

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