Police are seeking information on the death of 16-year-old Jarvis Deliford. (St. Pete Police)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL — As family and friends gathered for a candlelight vigil at Lake Maggiore Park over the weekend to remember the life of 16-year-old Jarvis Deliford, police were trying to unravel the mystery of the teen’s death.
The Boca Ciega High School student’s body was discovered by park visitors in the park’s lake around 8 a.m. July 4.
The badly decomposed body was surrounded by alligators, leading to speculation that he was the victim of an alligator attack.
His family doesn’t think so.
They believe he died by human hands, and they are asking police to investigate the teen’s death as a possible murder.
Deliford had been missing since June 29 when he was released from a juvenile detention facility for violating probation on a burglary charge. He wore an ankle monitor as a condition of his probation but cut it off and left his mother’s home in the 400 block of Paris Avenue South, according St. Petersburg Police Lt. Matthew Furse.
Deliford’s absence didn’t go unnoticed. Probation officials were notified that he’d cut off his monitor and fled the home where he was required to stay. However, no one had any idea where he was until his body was identified six days later.
The park goers who discovered the body said it was a gruesome sight. The body was surrounded by about 10 alligators and showed numerous signs of alligator bites. Fire rescue crews had to use a boat to carefully move the body away from gators so it could be recovered.
Furse said the rate of decomposition indicates the body could have been in the lake days before its discovery. However, the medical examiner’s cause of death won’t be available for another five to seven weeks.
While they wait, St. Pete Police are appealing to the public for information. Furse said there are "no obvious signs of foul play" and no indication that the cause of death was an alligator attack.
That led police to post this question on Facebook: "What happened to Jarvis?"
It remains a mystery. None of Deliford’s belongings were recovered during a search of the park and there are no indications that the park was one of Deliford’s hangouts.
So, investigators are trying to find out where he was and who he was with in the days after he was last seen June 29.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 727-893-7780, or text SPPD plus your tip to TIP411. You can also message police on Facebook.