Body identified as missing Albany hunter

ALBANY -- A body that was discovered Sunday night floating in the Apalachicola River has been confirmed to be missing Albany hunter John Mark Slappey.

Slappey, 34, disappeared a few days before Christmas while duck hunting on Lake Seminole in a float tube near the Jim Woodruff Dam when a strong current swept him through the dam.

His body was discovered by search and rescue teams who were searching for another missing person, Florida wildlife officials said.

An autopsy on the body performed by the medical examiner's office in Tallahassee, Fla., confirmed Monday evening that the body found was Slappey, said Stan Kirkland, regional spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

"The identity was confirmed not only through dental records, but through the clothing the body was wearing," he said. "The family was able to identify the belt buckle and camouflage."

According to investigators, Slappey was discovered approximately 25 miles down river from the Jim Woodruff Dam.

Kirkland said search and rescue teams from the Chattahoochee (Fla.) Police Department discovered the body around 10 p.m. Sunday while looking for another man who went missing earlier that evening.

Investigators said Robert Lee Bailey, 35, and his father-in-law, Ernest Prevatte, 48, of Altha, Fla., were on the Apalachicola River to check on their houseboat north of Blountstown when the smaller boat they were traveling in capsized.

"They were in an aluminum boat with a 60 horsepower motor and after they were done checking on the houseboat, the other boat sunk and left them out in water," said Kirkland.

Bailey quickly lost sight of his father-in-law in the 53-degree water, but was able to make it to an embankment where he climbed up and flagged down a vehicle that was traveling on Highway 20 at 8:47 p.m.

"He (Bailey) told the driver about his father-in-law and the driver called 911," he said.

Bailey was taken to a nearby hospital, treated for hypothermia and later released.

FWC officers along with Wewahitchka Search and Rescue, Liberty County Search and Rescue, the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office and

numerous volunteers are continuing their search for Prevatte.