Image: Sarah Michelle Lunde
Hillsborough County Sheriffs Dept. via Getty Images file
Thirteen-year-old Sarah Michelle Lunde in an undated photo released by the Hillsborough County Sheriffs Dept.
updated 4/16/2005 8:13:31 PM ET 2005-04-17T00:13:31

Authorities said Saturday they were “almost positive” they have found the body of a missing 13-year-old girl after recovering a corpse from a pond that appeared to match her description down to her green arm cast.

Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee said the body was found in an abandoned fish camp about a half mile from Sarah Michelle Lunde’s home. Gee said the cast was apparent when the body was found; Sarah had a bright green half cast from a left wrist injury.

“We’re almost positive it’s her,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Debbie Carter said.

Authorities said they hoped to determine a positive identification and cause of death during an autopsy.

Intensive search
Sarah was last seen on April 9, shortly after she returned home from a church trip and around the time a registered sex offender unexpectedly paid an unexpected visit to her family’s home. The teen was reported missing Monday when her mother learned she wasn’t at a friend’s home.

Gee has said that David Onstott, who once dated the girl’s mother, has drawn investigators’ attention, but he has not been named a suspect.


Onstott, 36, was being held after he was arrested Tuesday for allegedly threatening a man with a screwdriver at a bar. He spent 5½ years in prison after being convicted in 1995 of sexual battery with physical force.

Gee said he believes the body had been in the pond since shortly after Sarah disappeared. He said searchers would keep looking for articles of clothing Sarah might have been wearing at the time of her disappearance.

“The family is very distraught. It’s a tough time for them and we’re trying to assist them in that,” Gee said.

About 200 volunteers joined detectives Saturday in a search for Sarah, some hugging and crying as helicopters buzzed overhead. A day earlier, detectives told volunteers to point out any bottles of Budweiser or Bud Light they found. Sarah’s brother said Onstott took a half-empty beer bottle during his pre-dawn visit to their home.

Bottles tested for evidence
On Saturday, Gee said many beer bottles had been found and were being checked to determine if any DNA evidence is on them.

The fathers of two previously slain girls have been involved in the search for Sarah: Mark Lunsford, whose 9-year-old daughter, Jessica, was found dead last month after disappearing from her Citrus County home, and Roy Brown, whose 7-year-old daughter, Amanda, was killed by a convicted child molester in 1997.

Roy Brown said he was concerned about Sarah’s mother.

“I just wanted the mom to know I’m here. Because things change, once the media and the searchers go, once it’s all over, she still needs people,” he said.

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