The park and farmers market were closed most of Sunday as authorities investigated.
The Maitland Police Department received a disturbing call around 9:15 a.m. Sunday morning, when a body was discovered floating in Lake Lily.
“What had happened, was that several of the vendors that participate in the farmer’s market — I guess — complained to the Parks and Rec employee there, who helps set it up, about an odor where their tents were,” said Louis Grindle, Maitland Police Department’s public information officer. “Upon further investigation by the employee, she observed what seemed to be a body in the water, so she contacted us right away.”
Once authorities got to the scene, the market and park were closed until around 2 p.m, which was also the time that the scene investigation wrapped up.
Orange County’s dive team was called in to help with removing the body, while Maitland Fire and Rescue came on to the scene as protocol. Crime scene techs from Winter Park/Apopka and a crime scene investigator from Winter Park also assisted.
There currently is no known information in regard to the identity of the body or cause of death. Those details will not be known until an autopsy and further investigation are completed by the coroner’s office.
However, Grindle said police believe the body has been in the water for more than a day — though he isn’t sure exactly how long.
“It’s probably been there for a couple of days at least,” Grindle said. “You have to (factor that in) too, because of the element that the body was found in and the extreme heat, that adds to it as well.”
The smell itself was so overpowering that when vendors arrived earlier in the morning, around 7:30 a.m., they immediately started asking questions.
“We went there, and it smelled horrible,” said local potter Fabian Pesci, who was at the market selling his work. “We started thinking, ‘What the hell happened here?’ And I talked to the manager, and she said it was the lake … and I said, ‘It smells like a dead body.’”
Pesci said the manager walked around his tent, where she stayed for a minute or two, before coming back around to say she believed there was a body. According to Pesci, the manager realized it was a body when she noticed shoes.
In an image provided by Pesci, the body, which was floating within 10 feet of the shoreline behind his tent, was covered heavily in algae and other greenery.
“If you see the photo, it looks like garbage … it was really hard to see a body there,” Pesci said.
Vendors, including Pesci, were questioned before being asked to come back later to pick up their merchandise.
“It was crazy,” Pesci said.