Guardsman missing from Ponce Inlet base found

37-year-old vanished Wednesday after going for run, officials say

By Michelle Dendy - Web Editor
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Petty Officer 2nd Class Johnnie Walton.

PONCE INLET, Fla. - Coast Guard officials said on Thursday they have located the guardsman reported missing on Wednesday.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Johnnie Walton, 37, who joined the Coast Guard in July 2001, was on duty at Coast Guard Station Ponce De Leon Inlet in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, when he disappeared while exercising off base, according to Coast Guard officials.

Coast Guard officials said although the search has been called off and Walton was located, the investigation is ongoing. No other details were immediately available.

WKMG-TV reports a news conference was held Thursday night at the Coast Guard Station in New Smyrna Beach.

Department of Children and Families said Thursday evening that Walton was being investigated for possible child abuse allegations. DCF said the investigation was ongoing.

New Smyrna Beach Police Department released a statement on Thursday, saying, "Petty Officer Walton has been located and the search is no longer continuing but I cannot disclose any further information right now."

A Coast Guard spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday they are aware of Walton being involved in an investigation with the Edgewater Police Department but did not know what the investigation entailed.

No other details were immediately available.

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