Published: September 09, 2011
Updated: September 09, 2011 - 4:29 PM
NEW PORT RICHEY --
Gregory Greco was something of a free spirit and world traveler.
He graduated from the University of Wisconsin and earned a master's degree from the University of Montpellier in France. In 1984, the 33-year-old moved from his home in Wisconsin to the Tampa Bay area.
He got an apartment in the Lakes of Northdale community in Tampa and began working for the Tampa Cigar Co. In August 1987, Greco packed his belongings into his car and drove it to his father's seasonal home in Port Richey.
He left a note that simply said, "I'll be in touch."
Greco's family never saw him again.
They never reported him missing, instead hoping he had just gone overseas and would one day return. Last month, they finally learned the truth about what happened to him.
Pasco County sheriff's Detective David Boyer announced today that a body found floating near the Clearwater Pass on Aug. 8, 1987, has been positively identified as Greco.
Greco had slashed his wrists and jumped into the water. An autopsy at the time determined the cause of death to be suicide.
Greco's father, Michael Sr., still lives in Port Richey but did not want to speak to reporters today. Greco's brother, Michael Jr., who lives in Wisconsin, also declined to comment.
With no way to identify the remains, the Pinellas County Medical Examiner's Office had dubbed the remains "John Doe Sand Key" and buried them. Sand Key forms the south side of the Clearwater Pass, with Clearwater Beach to the north.
There were no efforts made to find Greco until last year, when his brother began looking into the disappearance. He contacted the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs, a Largo-based online listing of missing persons and unidentified remains.
NamUs officials got in touch with Boyer, a missing persons detective with the sheriff's office, who began investigating by contacting Greco's brother and father and requesting DNA.
Boyer checked passport records to determine whether Greco had left the country but found nothing. Complicating matters was the fact that Greco's medical, dental and fingerprint records had been destroyed.
Boyer created a NamUs profile for Greco complete with photos, description and circumstances of his disappearance. When he searched the listings using Greco's characteristics, the system returned 388 possible matches.
Boyer focused on one entry that closely matched Greco's description. Recovered with the remains listed in the entry were two Scripto lighters, aviator sunglasses, a tobacco pipe and a Seiko watch, all items Greco normally carried, Boyer said.
The remains of John Doe Sand Key were exhumed in September 2010. DNA samples were sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. On Aug. 22, Boyer received confirmation that the remains were those of Greco.
Boyer and Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco credited NamUs as the key to the case. Boyer encouraged other law enforcement agencies to enter their missing persons and unidentified remains cases into the database.
Rose Sacchetti, a regional senior specialist for NamUs, said the grant-funded organization has helped solve 200 cases nationwide its establishment in 2009.
She said NamUs is awaiting word on whether the National Institute of Justice grant will be renewed.
firstname.lastname@example.org (813) 731-8098