The body found in the Chestnut Hill Reservoir shortly before 8 a.m. yesterday morning has been tentatively identified by state police as that of Franco Garcia, WCAS ’12, who went missing on Feb. 22 after a night out with friends at Mary Ann’s in Cleveland Circle. Initial observations indicate that the body is Garcia’s, but an autopsy is necessary for confirmation.
Shortly before 8 a.m. yesterday morning, a man walking his dog reported a body floating in the Chestnut Hill reservoir 20 feet offshore on the Chestnut Hill Ave. side. State police responded to the scene.
“State police detectives assigned to the Suffolk DA’s office are en route to the area of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir this morning for a report of a body in the water,” said Jake Wark, Press Secretary of the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, in an e-mail this morning. “Procedurally, the Suffolk County State Police Detective Unit has jurisdiction over death investigations in state waters within the City of Boston, hence their deployment.”
The Chestnut Hill Reservoir was the site of numerous police searches in late February after the disappearance of Garcia on Feb. 22. Garcia had not been seen or contacted since then, and the searches throughout the end of February yielded no evidence related to his disappearance. State police investigators photographed the scene before going to retrieve the body.
The body was removed from the water in a white bag shortly after 10 a.m. The area the body was found in had heavy weeds and was approximately seven feet deep. Members of Garcia’s family gathered at the edge of the water before the body had been identified.
“He’s a very nice kid, a very nice human being,” said Antonio Espinoza, Garcia’s uncle. “He was the best nephew, the best son, the best brother. These weeks have been very hard on the family.”
The Twitter account @FindFranco, managed by friends and family, tweeted at 11:34 a.m. “Prayers and tears. We’ll love and miss you forever, Franco. #RIPFRANCO.” In a 12 p.m. press conference yesterday, state police at the scene stated that preliminary results, including items on the body, clothing, and physical description, indicated that the body was Garcia’s.
“The body found fits the general description of Franco Garcia,” state police spokesman David Procopio said at the noon press conference. “The clothing on the body is consistent with the clothing that Mr. Garcia was wearing on the night that he disappeared, and items found on the body indicate that the body is likely that of Mr. Garcia. Identification can only be confirmed by an autopsy, which will take place later today, tomorrow, or Friday.”
Procopio extended thanks to the Newton Police Department, the Boston Police Department, and the BCPD for their assistance and cooperation in the investigation. State police will confirm the identity more fully after an autopsy has been performed. State police at the scene did not rule out the possibility of foul play, stating that an official autopsy is necessary to determine the cause of death.
“Authorities are not commenting on specific evidence except to say that they hope to determine the facts and circumstances of the fatality and ultimately decide whether criminal charges are warranted,” Wark said.
The Boston College community has reached out to the Garcia family for support. A mass was held in memory of Garcia last night at 7 p.m. at the Parish of St. Mary in Waltham. Counseling services are also available for any students who require them.
“The University extends our deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies to Luzmila and Jose Garcia and Franco’s friends and classmates who are grieving at this time,” said University Spokesman Jack Dunn. “We offer our prayers to the extended Garcia family in Massachusetts and Peru and join them in mourning the apparent loss of this accomplished young man.”
After the body was removed from the water, Rev. Donald MacMillan and Rev. Tony Penna blessed the body and thanked the many law enforcement agencies for their cooperation.
“The news of today causes deep sadness, and our hearts go out to the Garcia family and his many friends at Boston College,” said University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J. “More than ever, we need to remember them in our prayers.”
Elise Taylor and Austin Tedesco, Heights Editors, contributed to this report.