• FDLE: Foul play suspected in Mount Dora girl's death

    By: Jason Kelly


    DeLAND, Fla. - A partially decomposed body discovered in DeLand last month is that of a 16-year-old Mount Dora girl, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said.

    Police said Justis Garrett's body was discovered on April 18 by a group of joggers in a wooded area along Gasline Road. Garrett hadn't been seen since her mother dropped her off at Mount Dora High School on April 13.

    She was supposed to have ridden the bus home after school, but she never arrived. Her mother reported her missing the following day.

    Investigators said they called Garrett's cellphone, but it was turned off.

    "This is very sad news for the family and for a community that knew and loved her. It's heartbreaking," FDLE spokeswoman Angela Starke said. "We believe that someone has seen something. We believe that if she went missing on (April 14), she was last seen on (April 13) and the body was found on (April 18), we know someone has seen something."

    Read: FDLE investigating possible link between girl's disappearance, discovery of body

    Police said there were no incidents that would have prompted Garrett to run away.

    FDLE hasn't said how Garrett died. Her death remains under investigation.

    Investigators said Garrett's identity was confirmed through DNA analysis. Her family was notified Monday.

    A family friend told Channel 9 that Garrett was a good girl with an amazing personality. She said the girl's family and friends are heartbroken.

    Read: Police: Decomposing, partially clothed woman's body found on DeLand road

    Investigators said they suspect foul play in Garrett's death.

    Student Natalie Herrera, who rode the same school bus as Garrett, described her as a well-rounded person who got along with everybody and stayed out of trouble.

    "It kind of came as a surprise, because we all thought she would come around eventually," she said. "When we heard she passed away, it kind of brought the whole school down."

    Garretts' classmates observed a moment of silence in her honor Tuesday.

    The school will have counselors available for students.

    Photos: High-profile Central Florida missing persons cases

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