BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP — The body of a missing 23-year-old township man was found Saturday morning by family members.
State Police confirmed the body was Andrew Taylor, 23, of the Newtonville section of the township. According to his great aunt Deanna Mobley, Taylor was last heard from last Sunday.
The body was discovered just after 10 a.m. in a township gravel pit off Pancoast Mill Road, State Police said. It was turned over to the Southern Regional Medical Examiner, who will determine the manner and cause of death, said Sgt. Brian Polite, State Police public information officer.
Mobley and about 15 other family members, including Taylor’s mother, brothers, sister and cousins, had launched a search party Saturday morning hoping to find Taylor. When they found nothing at one site near St. Augustine College Preparatory School, they headed to a second site near a mill pond next to Pancoast Mill Road.
Taylor’s mother said they should stop at the entrance to what is locally known as “the mud pit,” Mobley said.
At the site, frequented by area residents who use four-wheelers and motorized dirt bikes, members of the group saw a long, dark object partially lying in standing water and slightly sunken in the mud. It appeared to be Taylor, Mobley said.
“I said, ‘Don’t touch him! Don’t touch him, don’t get the area contaminated,’” Mobley recalled saying.
“We knew we were going to find him,” great aunt Marva Williams said. “I knew once we got together.”
Mobley, along with Annette Thomas, another of Taylor’s great aunts, said they believe he was murdered.
The medical examiner’s ruling on the manner and cause of death will determine how the investigation proceeds, Polite said.
Police blocked off access to a dirt road that led into the woods, citing an ongoing investigation. A State Police helicopter hovered overhead for a short time, and family members, many still with muddy shoes and pant legs, sat in the waiting area of the State Police Headquarters on Route 54.
One of Taylor’s brothers, Raesean Cruz, 16, described Taylor as a quiet man who would tell his younger brother secrets. Cruz, Mobley and Williams said the family feared the worst when Taylor did not check in with his mother or other relatives last Sunday night. Taylor was close to his family, they said, and it was unlike him not to let others know where he was.
The family had distributed flyers around the area and they were trying to spread the word via social media and other outlets. They were frustrated by what they perceived as inaction by the police.
“We felt as though no one was doing anything to help us get answers. It wasn’t moving fast enough,” said Annette Thomas, another of Taylor’s great aunts. “I just cringe. What if we hadn’t gone today? When would they have found him?”
Polite said he could not comment on the missing-person investigation.
Contact Sarah Watson:
@acpresssarah on Twitter