Volusia County

Search for body of man presumed killed in Deltona stretches into 4th day

DELTONA, Fla. — Volusia County deputies will resume their search for a 52-year-old’s body Wednesday after failing to find it on their third day of searching.

Deputies said Juan Santiago of New York was likely killed by his son Johnny at his vacation home in Deltona Sunday night.

The man had flown down to Central Florida a short while before to confront his 18-year-old son, who was living alone at his father’s home and acting erratically, including wrecking a car on the highway, Sheriff Mike Chitwood said to reporters Tuesday afternoon.

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“The argument is heated, mom hears gunshots and the phone goes dead,” Chitwood explained.

He said officially they cannot call their investigation a homicide without a body, but deputies found bloody clothes and shell casings in the driveway of the home when they arrived 22 minutes after the shooting.

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“There’s no other logical explanation other than dad’s dead,” he summarized, saying both the teenager and his mother refused to cooperate with deputies.

On Monday, WFTV called a number listed for Santiago’s wife, who was in New York when the shooting happened. A woman answered and said her family had no connection to the Deltona home but refused to provide her name. Additional calls and texts to that number have not been returned.

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Deputies believe Juan Santiago’s body was hidden close to the home and have been focusing their search on the property and nearby lake ever since. They said Johnny drove by the house shortly after deputies arrived, adding to their suspicions that he didn’t flee far in the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

They said they recovered a gun believed to be the murder weapon after the teenager crashed into a Mount Dora synagogue Monday.

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