Volusia County Sheriff's Office
Home | news | Human Remains Help Sheriff's Detectives Solve 29-Year-Old Missing Persons Case
Aside arrow Human Remains Help Sheriff's Detectives Solve 29 Year Old Missing Persons Case
January 27, 2017 4:36 pm

Gary Davidson
Public Information Officer


Volusia County Sheriff’s detectives have solved a 29-year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance of an 80-year-old man who wandered away from his home in Oak Hill in 1988 and was never heard from again. The mystery began to unravel in 2015 when human remains were found in a vacant lot in Oak Hill. They’ve now been identified as the remains of Bruno Van Bavel, who went missing on Feb. 28, 1988.

Van Bavel suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and had a history of wandering off from his residence on County Line Road. With the case unsolved for more than two decades, a man clearing some brush on a vacant, 20-acre parcel off of Reed Grove Road in Oak Hill discovered what he believed to be a human skull. The discovery was made in August 2015. A subsequent search of the area also turned up a leg bone, and the remains were shipped off to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for a forensic examination. Working from a tip, Sheriff’s investigator had a hunch at the time that the remains may have belonged to Van Bavel -- who lived about 2 miles from where the bones were found. But the forensic analysis and tests using DNA from a grandson proved inconclusive.

Later, Sheriff’s detectives got a DNA swab from Van Bavel’s son in South Florida, and that proved to be the match needed to confirm the identity. “The DNA testing supported a match for the biological relationship between the family reference samples and the unidentified remains,” a Sheriff’s detective wrote in a report about the case.

Volusia County Sheriff's Office

Administrative offices: West Volusia 386-736-5961 Daytona Beach 386-254-4689 New Smyrna Beach 386-423-3352

Non-emergency dispatch numbers: DeLand 386-943-8276 Daytona Beach 386-239-8276 New Smyrna Beach 386-409-8276 Osteen 407-323-0151

Privacy Policy


We use cookies to provide and improve our services. By using our site, you consent to cookies.