A car pulled from a small pond in Orange Township on Tuesday has been identified as belonging to Tony Luzio, a Liberty Township man who has been missing for nearly a decade.
The Delaware County Sheriff's Office confirmed Wednesday, Oct. 22, that the body found inside a car submerged in an Orange Township pond is that of a man missing for nearly a decade.
A car pulled from a small pond in Orange Township on Tuesday, Oct. 21, had been identified as belonging to Tony Luzio, a Liberty Township man missing since 2005.
Investigators discovered the submerged vehicle Tuesday afternoon in the Summerfield Village neighborhood, off East Orange Road and just west of South Old State Road.
Shortly after 5 p.m., a tow truck assisted by a team of divers pulled a silver Honda Civic out of the pond. Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin confirmed during a press conference Tuesday night that the car's license plate matched Luzio's car.
"We believe that the vehicle has been submerged for approximately nine-and-a-half years, very possibly" he said. "So there's a lot of debris in that vehicle. It was submerged in several feet of what I would describe as muck in that pond."
The Franklin County coroner will conduct an autopsy in the case.
"Our hearts go out to the Luzio family," Martin said in a released statement Tuesday night. "We want to honor and respect their privacy while they process this latest information."
Luzio, who was 25 when he went missing, was last seen July 4, 2005, as he left a friend's residence in Powell.
The sheriff's office and the Powell Police Department launched a renewed effort to find Luzio in April, hoping new technology would assist in the investigation. The departments came up empty in their search of 300 ponds in the Liberty Township and Powell areas.
Martin said even after that disappointment, the agencies never stopped searching for Luzio.
Recently, the search shifted to the Lewis Center area because Luzio had a friend who lived in the area at the time.
The nonprofit Team Watters Sonar Search and Recovery of Illinois have assisted law-enforcement officials throughout the search process. Dennis Watters, founder of Team Watters, said his sonar equipment detected Luzio's car in the 13th pond the investigators searched Tuesday.
Watters said he initially was skeptical that the vehicle was Luzio's because he has located multiple submerged cars in Delaware County during the search for Luzio.
"Until they confirmed the license plate, I didn't really get excited about it because (of) all the other false alarms we've had," he said.
Martin said it was too early in the case to determine whether any foul play might have been involved. He said he would not be willing to rule anything out at this point.
"Although there is an air of excitement about today's vehicle recovery, there is still a lot of work to be done, a lot of questions to be answered," Martin said.