Houston County man missing for 28 years likely found

The body believed to be that of James Aaron Toole was after crews working as part of Hurricane Idalia recovery efforts found the car in the Steinhatchee River.
Published: Sep. 28, 2023 at 3:16 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

STEINHATCHEE, Fla- (WTVY) - The body of James Aaron Toole, who had been missing for 28 years, has likely been found in a Florida river.

Workers cleaning up following Hurricane Idalia discovered skeletal remains in a Chevrolet Cavalier with a 1995 Houston County license plate submerged in the Steinhatchee River about one hour west of Gainesville.

Toole, 72, was driving that model when he disappeared from his hometown of Pansey, Alabama, on May 15, 1995.

Package from May 13, 2015.

Houston County Sheriff Donald Valenza said a credit card and Sam’s Club card bearing “Toole” were found inside the car. However, the sheriff said investigators must conduct further testing before positively identifying the body.

He told News4 that he dispatched officers to Florida and efforts are underway to recover the car from the water.

According to reports, Toole, known to friends as Aaron, told his family he planned to visit a sick relative in Florida but never arrived. Before leaving, he worked part of his shift at a rural store along Houston County Highway 75.

WTVY News4 sat down with the family of missing man James Aaron Toole on May 13, 2015

A Facebook page dedicated to locating Toole claims a person reported finding his wallet in 2020 in Bainbridge, GA.

However, Sheriff Valenza said he could not confirm that report. He told News4 that Toole’s family has been notified.

WCJB contributed to this report.

This story will be updated.

28 years after James Aaron Toole told his family he was headed to visit a friend, his body has almost certainly been found.

Subscribe to our News 4 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning. Get instant notifications on top stories from News 4 by downloading our mobile apps.