Thirty-one-year-old Michael Williams left his home for some duck hunting on Lake Seminole and never returned. Authorities say 79 people have disappeared on Lake Seminole. All of their bodies were eventually found, all of them except for one, Michael Williams.
Lake Seminole, a sportsman’s paradise and the last place Michael Williams was ever seen. On the morning of December 16, 2000 he came here to duck hunt alone, a trip that haunts his family because he never came home.
Rescue teams spent weeks trying to answer that question, searching the dark, cold water, but no trace of Michael. However, his boat was found in the on position, full throttle and a full tank of gas, all indicators he'd fallen over board and drown. Or had he?
Tommy Ford, special agent supervisor for FDLE, says, "Questions can't be answered and we wouldn't be doing our job if didn't take it as far as we can."
With no body to base a conclusion on, many involved in the search believe Michael was attacked and eaten by alligators. One dive team member wrote, "With the wildlife around I would guess that alligators have dismembered and have stored the remains in a location that we would not be able to find."
Matthew Aresco with the Department of Biological Sciences Mat FSU says, "If they think alligators are to blame, [they] need to look somewhere else."
Reptile expert Matthew Aresco says although attributing Michael's disappearance to an alligator attack may be convenient, scientifically it's virtually impossible.
Six months after his disappearance, a mysterious find beneath the surface raises red flags for investigators. Michael's hunting jacket and paper fishing license were found eight feet under water in perfect condition.
Robbie Wester of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office says, "Our understanding, submerged for six months, would have damage that in itself is suspicious."
It leads Cheryl to believe Lake Seminole isn't her son’s final resting place.
"He may be dead, but he's not in the lake and if somebody did something to hurt my child I want them found and punished."
At the time of Michael's disappearance, the water temperature was 54 degrees, which limited divers’ time in the water to just 20 minutes at a time.
Hydrilla also posed problems for rescuers. This is an active open death investigation because a body has never been found. If anyone has any information they can call the Jackson County Sheriff's Office at 850-482-9624.
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