Home News Bones found in search after missing person tip in St. Lucie County

Bones found in search after missing person tip in St. Lucie County

Bones found in search after missing person tip in St. Lucie County

ST. LUCIE COUNTY − Sheriff’s officials searching on Palmetto Drive in connection with a missing person tip found bones, though it’s unclear whether the bones are human, Sheriff Ken Mascara said Wednesday.

Mascara said the bones, found after a search in the 5800 block of Palmetto Drive, have been delivered to the medical examiner in Fort Pierce. The Palmetto Drive address is east of U.S. 1 and north of Easy Street.

“We received a tip that there was evidence of a missing person at that backyard,” Mascara said.  “We don’t know who it is. The person never told us who it is.”

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St. Lucie County sheriff's officials March 21, 2023, reported searching at a home near the 5800 block of Palmetto Drive in connection with a missing person case. Neighbors on March 22, 2023, said this home is where the search was being conducted.

A 2003 case appears to be associated with the address, according to records and officials.

The Sheriff’s Office Tuesday reported it had been “using ground-penetrating radar and K-9 (dogs) to search for any anomalies underground near the 5800 block of Palmetto Drive in Fort Pierce.” Detectives began investigating March 13.

Neighbors Wednesday reported the residence at 5800 Palmetto Drive was the subject of the search. Several neighbors either declined to comment or did not come to their doors.

No one came to the door at the 5800 address Wednesday morning. The home is owned by Catena M. Zagarella, according to information accessed via the St. Lucie County Property Appraiser’s website.  

The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, a clearinghouse for missing persons and other cases, lists Stephen Zagarella as missing from Fort Pierce.

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According to a criminal case in St. Lucie County Clerk’s records, Stephen Zagarella, 57, had 5800 Palmetto Drive listed as his address. Port St. Lucie police got warrants for his arrest in connection with a 2002 traffic-related case.

Prosecutors in 2013 filed motions to dismiss the warrants, noting the case no longer was prosecutable “because of lack of witnesses and/or evidence, and/or the statute of limitations has expired.”

Mascara via text Wednesday stated Stephen Zagarella has been missing since 2003.

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A request Wednesday to the Sheriff’s Office for Stephen Zagarella’s missing person’s report was not immediately fulfilled.

“It is too early to tell whether or not a crime has occurred,” Mascara said in a news release. “But our detectives are working nonstop to thoroughly investigate the area, and they will remain on site until our search is complete.” 


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