Man missing for 11-years identified

The skeletal remains of a man, who has been missing from Volusia County since December 2001, were tentatively identified to Historic City News reporters, pending additional DNA testing by St Johns County Sheriff’s detectives.

Investigators believe the remains, located earlier this year near McCullough Creek in southwest St Johns County, are those of Leigh Hobart Abel Jr. who was 78 at the time of his disappearance from central Florida.

Abel, and his wife of 56-years, Margaret, resided in New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin before retiring to Orange City in 1989. On the day of his disappearance, he went fishing at the beach at the Canaveral National Seashore Park, as he had done many times before.

A year later, Abel’s 1999 GMC Suburban was found — abandoned in Boca Raton. However, no evidence could be found in the vehicle and Abel’s location was still unknown.

Today, based on a clothing match and vehicle key match, the remains were presumptively identified as Able. Foul play is suspected and his death is believed to be a homicide, according to a report from Sheriff’s representative, Kevin Kelshaw.

400-Abel-WitnessWitnesses observed a man near the victim before he vanished. He was described as clean-shaven white man in his twenties. He was never identified.

The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office reported that a CrimeStoppers tip was received in November 2003; apparently in response to flyers that were distributed in the Boca Raton area after the vehicle was discovered. According to the tipster, a white man whose nickname was “Ziggy”, described as being 5’10” tall, medium build, short brown hair, and brown eyes, had information regarding Abel’s disappearance. He was said to live in Fort Lauderdale in a second floor apartment by himself; however, neither the tipster nor “Ziggy” have ever been identified.

Abel’s wife died in October of last year. A daughter, Diane, died in July of last year.
Another daughter, Linda Balch, presently resides in Michigan.

Anyone with information concerning this suspected crime is asked to contact Detective Eugene Tolbert at the St Johns County Sheriff’s Office at (904) 824-8304. You can remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a cash reward by calling CrimeStoppers of Northeast Florida at 1-888-277-TIPS (8477).

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