Crime & Public Safety

Body found in marsh identified as missing Beaufort man, officials say

A “partially skeletonized” body found in a marsh near Lady’s Island Airport has been identified as missing Beaufort man Joseph Gardner Jr.

Gardner, 54, was identified by the Beaufort County Deputy Coroner David Ott on Tuesday.

DNA testing through the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office’s Forensic Services Laboratory confirmed the man’s identity, Sheriff’s Office Capt. Bob Bromage said Tuesday.

Gardner’s body was found Feb. 3 by family members searching the marsh area for him. He had been reported missing to the Sheriff’s Office the same day.

Family members told police it is possible Gardner had been missing since mid-December.

An acquaintance of the family had told them the man had traveled to Florida with a girlfriend, a police report says. Family members became suspicious of the story in recent weeks.

Teresa Moss is a crime and public safety reporter for The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette. She has worked as a journalist for 16-years for newspapers in Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas.