Body Found Sunday is Thought to be Iraq Veteran’s

Tampa Bay Online

March 10, 2008 – Deep Creek, FL – DEEP CREEK – A badly decomposed body found Sunday in a culvert in Charlotte County is suspected of being that of missing Iraq war veteran Eric Hall.

“Everybody’s kind of concluded that,” said Bob Carpenter, spokesman for the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.

However, he said, a final determination will not be made until the body is analyzed by the county medical examiner.

Hall’s mother, Becky Hall, said she wanted to wait for the medical examiner’s report before reaching any conclusions or making comments.

Carpenter said he did not know when the medical examiner would make a determination. He also could not say whether shoes, a cell phone, or clothing belonging to Hall were found in the culvert or nearby.

Becky Hall also would not say whether any items were found.

Suspicion is high that the body is Hall’s because the culvert was very close to an underground shelter Hall is thought to have built weeks ago.

A volunteer who was searching for signs of Hall contacted the sheriff’s office Sunday morning to report a strong odor coming from the culvert, according to a sheriff’s office news release.

The county’s public works department provided a backhoe for investigators to dig to the pipe and cut a hole in it. The body was found 40 to 50 yards inside the pipe.

Family members said Hall went missing on Feb. 3, after he experienced a traumatic flashback and fled the home of his aunt, where he was alone with his grandmother.

The family has not heard from Hall since his disappearance. They were given false hope that he was still alive two weeks ago, when an ex-girlfriend of his received phone calls from a man who sounded like him.

It was later discovered that the woman’s ex-husband made both phone calls as a hoax, Becky Hall said.

Hall, 24, had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after an improvised explosive devise killed his best friend and permanently wounded his own leg in Fallujah, Iraq, three years ago.

He had moved from his hometown of Jeffersonville, Ind., to live with his cousin and get a fresh start in a warm climate, family members said.

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