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Friday, February 27, 2009


City Tickets Car 7 Times With Dead Body In Backseat

       Body in car identified as Gainesville engineer

Megan Rolland

Karen Voylese 

Staff Writers

The Gainesville Sun

Published: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 3:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 3:52 p.m.

The identity of man found dead inside a car in College Park on Monday afternoon has been confirmed as that of a Gainesville engineer missing since Feb. 11.


 AARON DAYE/The Gainesville Sun

Gainesville Police Department forensic investigators Marc Trahan, center left, and Wendy Shirah, center right, investigate a 2001 BMW 330i parked at the 1900 block of NW 2nd Avenue where a man found dead inside the car who was believed to be John F. Waldo who disappeared earlier this month


Now city employees are answering questions about why the man's car was ticketed seven times by city employees, beginning the day after he was last seen alive.

Gainesville police said that a preliminary autopsy on the body found in the backseat of the 2001 silver BMW 330i confirmed that it was John Waldo, 42, an engineer at AvMed, who was last seen alive Feb. 11 at Calico Jack's Oyster Bar, 3502 SW 2nd Ave., in Gainesville.

"But the autopsy was inconclusive — there was no obvious cause of death," said Gainesville Police spokesman Keith Kameg. Investigators are awaiting toxicology results, which may take up to six weeks, before they will likely narrow their focus in trying to determine the cause of Waldo's death.

At 4 p.m. Monday, a resident of College Park called police about a car that had been parked in the 1900 block of NW 2nd Avenue for several days and had been ticketed seven times by city employees.

Police detective Bennie Smith said Waldo was seated face-forward on the passenger side of the back seat, was fully clothed and had the car's ignition key in his possession when he was found. A loaded pistol was found inside the trunk of the car.

"We don't expect the cause of death to be foul play," Smith told The Sun on Wednesday afternoon.

City records show a ticket officer issued seven tickets to Waldo's BMW, with the first ticket being issued Feb. 12, the day after Waldo was last seen alive.

According to Kameg, Smith said the reason the ticket officers apparently did not notice someone slumped over in the BMW may have been because the window tint on the car was illegally dark.

"Even the person who called this in was not real sure if they had seen him clearly," said Kameg.

Bob Woods, spokesman for the city of Gainesville, said that the city's ticket officers are not trained police officers but work out of the city's public works department. The police department had been charged with enforcing parking in the city until January 2008, when the duty was assigned to public works.

Woods said that after three parking tickets are issued, a car is flagged for additional enforcement such as booting or towing, However, Woods said it could take several days for the system to register the tickets, which was apparently the case for Waldo's BMW.

According to Woods, the city will now make a point of alerting ticket officers about specific vehicles that police are looking for.

This kind of reminds me of a time down in Tampa, Florida when I was about 7 or 8 years old. A car was parked on the street just a ways down from in front of me and my mothers apartment. I walked past it every day going to school. It was HOT down there at the time. After three or four days passed, I began noticing a pungent odor when I walked by it. Finally, after five or six days passed, I walked by it coming home from school and the odor was nearly unbearable, and the car had totally filled up with green blow flies. I went on home, and told my mother what I had seen and been smelling. She went out and looked, but the flies were so thick inside the car you couldn't hardly see what was on the seat. She came in and called the police. When they finally arrived and got the door open you could see a person half way sitting there with a shotgun between his legs. The body was so decomposed that they had to get a rubber bag to dump it in. I will never forget the sight and smell coming out of that car.
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