Human remains found near missing Florida Lyft driver’s last known location: report
By Rachel Tucker,
OKECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — Human remains were discovered in Okeechobee County on Saturday.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement said the remains belonged to an adult male. Officials said positive identification of the man is pending autopsy.
NBC affiliate WPTV said the remains were found near the location where a missing Lyft driver dropped off a rider before disappearing. 74-year-old Gary Levin’s cell phone was pinged not far from the area on Monday.
Levin’s daughter, Lindsay DiBetta, told the Associated Press that investigators learned Levin drove a customer to Okeechobee and completed the ride sometime after 4 p.m. Dibetta said her father contacted friends at around the same time and “all seemed well.”
Soon after, Levin’s phone was turned off and he hasn’t been heard from since.
“The sadness and the frustration in this is all so much for my family and I. I appreciate all the reach out and positive prayers… Since this case is being looked at by so many people at this point I have to have faith in our legal system and the people working on it,” DiBetta wrote on Facebook . “I have to believe they are doing everything possible to bring home a father, grandfather, brother, friend, uncle and cousin to his loved ones.”
Flores was captured after leading police on a chase through three North Carolina counties. He appeared at a brief court hearing on Friday, where a judge set bail at $2 million, according to the Associated Press.
A Florida woman accused of helping Flores evade police has also been arrested. Officers said Stephanie Velgara will be charged as an accessory after the fact for second degree murder.
DiBetta said the Lyft job was great for her retired father, who loves telling dad jokes.
“It was the perfect set up for him,” she said. “He would get a new audience every ride.”
Levin worked in auto body sales before retiring to Florida. His daughter told the AP his car “was his baby.”
“What happened to my dad? Did (Flores) harm my dad?” DiBetta said. “We just don’t know.”
Wauchula Police Chief John Eason said investigators are on their way to North Carolina in hopes of interviewing Flores about the Jan. 24 killing and the missing driver.
Flores’ next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 22.
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