At vigil for man found in lake, family calls for further answers

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COLUMBIA - The family of a man who apparently drowned in a Boone County lake held a vigil outside of Columbia's City Hall Saturday night.

The body of 27-year-old Gaspar Soto-Reza was found Tuesday at Lake Caroline in the County Downes subdivision north of Columbia. Authorities said they were notified he was missing Aug. 1.

Boone County Fire Protection District (BCFPD) Battalion Chief Gale Blomenkamp said Soto-Reza told friends he was going swimming early Saturday morning and did not show up for work that day. Blomenkamp said it was not confirmed Soto-Reza ever went into the water. He said Soto-Reza's clothes, cell phone and vehicle were all found near the lake.

Soto-Reza's brother-in-law, Carlos Sanchez, said family and friends held the vigil in a public place because they want people to know they don't think they have all the answers.

Sanchez said he's suspicious of the man Soto-Reza was with before his disappearance. Sanchez said Soto-Reza met the man at a bar not long before his disappearance and they were not close friends, though BCFPD said the two were friends. Sanchez said Soto-Reza hated lakes and it would be abnormal for him to want to go swimming at 2 a.m. 

"I'm pretty sure someone took him down there because, like I said, he hates lakes and plus it was two in the morning so it was very early in the day," Sanchez said. "The other thing suspicious is this guy didn't call the police to let him know he disappeared until ten hours later. So he disappeared at two in the morning and didn't call the police until 12 p.m. of the next day. That's something that I really don't understand why he'd wait that long to call if he knows it's a private lake. A lot of people probably know this lake. There's nothing but houses around and there's just a small piece of property, like a beach area. It's just so small that I don't really think someone can disappear from there" 

Soto-Reza had plans to move back to Mexico to become a farmer on a large piece of property he owned, according to Sanchez.  

Sanchez said Soto-Reza was a very happy person, had an abundance of aspirations and was always trying to help people.

Detective Tom O'Sullivan, with the Boone County Sheriff's Department, said drowning was suspected as the cause of death and there were no indications of foul play in the autopsy's findings.

O'Sullivan said it would be three weeks before toxicology results would be available.

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