19-year-old's body pulled from canal in Melrose

Deputies continue to investigate circumstances surrounding Mathew Cemer's death

MELROSE, Fla. – A body found Sunday morning in a canal off Big Lake Sante Fe in the Melrose area has been identified as that of a 19-year-old man, authorities said Monday.

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office said the medical examiner used fingerprints and another lead, which authorities are following, to identify the body as that of Mathew Cemer.

Lt. Brett Rhodenizer, with the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, said Cemer's body showed no obvious signs of trauma when it was pulled from the water. An autopsy was scheduled to take place Monday afternoon.

News4Jax has learned Cemer was a junior counselor at John Wayne Chapter DeMolay, of Gainesville. The organization for young males between 12 and 21 years old released a statement, saying it was grieving his loss. 

According to the Alachua County Sheriff's Office, Cemer was never reported missing, but once his family members were contacted, they said he had been missing for several days. Authorities said they do not believe Cemer was in the water long, but they still do not know why he was in the water in the first place. 

The recovery effort began and ended at a boat launch in Alachua County, but the body was discovered in the canal in Bradford County.

Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith said 911 dispatchers got a call about the body about 10:15 a.m. Sunday. He said the body may have been dumped in the canal within the last 24 hours. The body was naked except for one sock.

At nearly the same time that report came in, there was a report of a home burglary, Smith said. Both cases are being investigated and deputies are searching for any possible connection between the two. Deputies said they also discovered a stolen white Jeep in a wooded area not far from the canal and the Bradford County Sheriff's Office is investigating that. 

The Alachua County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding Cemer's death. Deputies are asking anyone with information about Cemer's whereabouts, activities or associates before Sunday to call Alachua County Sheriff's Office's Criminal Investigations Division at 352-367-4170, submit anonymous tips at nixle.com or text their ZIP code to 888777.

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