Missing war veteran found dead
Published: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 5:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 at 5:07 p.m.
A Gainesville man with combat experience in Iraq who was reported missing last Friday was found dead Wednesday afternoon in a northwest Gainesville apartment.
Laurence "Larry" VanTassell, 51, who previously had been listed as a missing endangered person, was found dead in an apartment at Hidden Lake Apartments, 1015 NW 21st Ave. #411.
A preliminary investigation revealed that VanTassell's death was likely a suicide, according to a news release from the Gainesville Police Department.
"He suffered a gunshot wound that appears to be self-inflicted," said GPD spokesman Officer Ben Tobias.
An investigation found that VanTassell apparently had a verbal sublease of the apartment, which is why there was no record of him with the apartment office, police said.
VanTassell's parents told GPD that VanTassell lived a secretive lifestyle, which made locating his residence extremely difficult, police said. The last known address listed for him was the VA Medical Center on Archer Road.
VanTassell's parents, who live out of state, only knew the complex by sight, and his apartment was not discovered until his parents traveled to Gainesville and drove around with GPD detectives looking for the apartment.
On Friday, VanTassell had called his parents and told them goodbye, police said.
GPD officers, some with police dogs or in a helicopter, searched Friday night for VanTassell with no success.
"It was literally looking for a needle in a stack of needles because we didn't have any address or any type of point to start from," Tobias said of Friday's search.
"I would definitely encourage anyone to give (the Alachua County Crisis Center) a call if they have thoughts of hurting themselves," said Tobias. "Before they do something that they can't change."
Contact the crisis center at 264-6789.
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