BOSTON (AP) — Seven weeks of searching and hoping for their son's safe return dissolved into grief Wednesday for the parents of a Boston College student who said police pulled his remains from the water of a reservoir near the campus.
Priests prayed over 21-year-old chemistry major Franco Garcia before authorities placed his body inside a van at the edge of Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
Garcia's father, Jose Garcia, weeping at his Newton home later Wednesday, said, "I found him. But not the way I want."
Garcia was last seen drinking with friends at a bar near campus early on Feb. 22. He had planned to stay the night at a friend's dorm but never showed. His car was parked where he left it, there was no new activity on his credit card and no one had used his cellphone since it pinged off a tower near the reservoir that night.
Divers had repeatedly scoured the depths of the reservoir, in between campus and the bar, since he disappeared. Authorities also used sonar to search the reservoir, but found no sign of Garcia there until a man walking his dog reported seeing a body in the water Wednesday.
Authorities said the body was found in an area of heavy weeds, which had limited visibility during their searches.
The family said police reported that the clothes on the body matched the description of what Garcia was wearing when he was last seen. Police also found the student's wallet in his pocket and recovered his eyeglasses, according to his family, though the district attorney said he couldn't confirm for certain that the body was Garcia's until authorities performed an autopsy.
Garcia's parents said police told them they will investigate whether their son died in an accident or if foul play was a factor. They said they hope authorities find that Garcia's death was an accident so they can have some closure as they grieve.
"This is not going to be over until we find the truth of what happened with him," Luzmila Garcia told The Associated Press. "The only thing I ask is to find the truth — what happened with Franco?"
The night he disappeared, her son had gone to a popular hangout with fellow members of Boston College's Symphonic Band after a practice on campus. Inside the bar, he also met up with friends from high school. At closing time, his college friends couldn't find him. A close friend of Garcia's previously told the AP that Garcia was drunk "but not smashed" that night.
There is no fence around the reservoir where authorities found the body.
Police got involved a day later, when his parents returned in a panic from a vacation to New York City after not being able to reach him.
Garcia lived at home with his parents, who emigrated more than two decades ago from Lima, Peru. Worried relatives there also have been following the case, and one of Luzmila Garcia's sisters flew to Boston from Lima to help search for her nephew.
The case drew the attention of singer Bruce Springsteen, whose son is a senior at Boston College. The musician posted the student's missing person poster on both Twitter and Facebook.
A priest joined Garcia's parents at their home later in the day, when they said they would begin planning for their son's funeral now that their search for him had ended. Family planned to attend a church service in Garcia's memory at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Catholic parish Saint Mary in Waltham.
Luzmila Garcia said that while she knew her son was gone, she still felt his spirit.
"I can see him telling me, 'Calm down, Mama. That's OK,'" she said. "He's telling me that."
Associated Press writers Rodrique Ngowi and Mark Pratt contributed to this report.
- Jose Garcia