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Body discovered in submerged car of Florida teacher missing since 2020, sheriff says

A body was discovered inside a vehicle that belongs to Robert Heikka, a teacher in Port Orange, Florida, who went missing in 2020, after the car was pulled from a canal.

A body was discovered inside a submerged car that belonged to a teacher who has been missing for nearly three years, authorities in Florida said Saturday.

The white 2012 Chevrolet Impala of Robert Heikka was recovered from a canal along Pioneer Trail near New Smyrna Beach, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said. 

The nonprofit Sunshine State Sonar Search Team and Recon Dive Recovery members spotted the car after a recent and significant drop in the canal’s water level and confirmed the tag, officials said. The sheriff’s dive team then pulled the car from the canal.


“While positive ID has not officially been made, the Port Orange Police Department has been in contact with Mr. Heikka’s family,” the sheriff’s office said. “Our thoughts go out to the Heikka family and friends this evening.”

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On Oct. 26, 2020, Heikka never showed up for work at Creekside Middle School in Port Orange, where he taught since 2002. Heikka, then 70 years old, was reported missing and multiple agencies, including the FBI, have since been searching for the missing teacher.

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Neighbors have told investigators that they last saw the teacher leaving his home the morning of Oct. 24, 2020, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported. Bank records showed that he had made an ordinary transaction at an ATM in nearby Brevard County, the report said.

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The Pioneer Trail where Heikka’s vehicle was found is near the South Tomoka Wildlife Management Area, about six miles from the missing teacher’s Port Orange neighborhood.

No further details about the body recovered from the vehicle were immediately available.

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