Saturday, March 11, 2006
Van Streat Jr.’s
Death Apparently Accidental
A body found in a wooded area of the northern portion
of Ware County Thursday has been positively identified as that of Donnie Lavan "Van" Streat Jr., said Waycross Police Chief
Streat apparently died an accidental death. Tanner said there were no signs of trauma found on the body.
Streat’s body was located in about 18 inches of water about 400 yards from where his truck had been found on
Feb. 17. The same area in the Beach community in both Ware and Bacon counties had been searched extensively since Streat was
reported missing on Feb. 15. His body was found after a portion of the cypress swamp was drained.
Tanner said toxicology
reports will not be known for about four weeks. GBI Special Agent In Charge Jeff Evans intimated Thursday at a news conference
that he believed the death was accidental.
The body was found after a "local person" phoned in a tip. The person had
"... an inner feeling that if you search this area you might find him." Ware County Sheriff Ronnie McQuaig said the site included
about 100 acress of swamp that was more than three feet deep in some places before it was drained.
Streat was last
seen Feb. 15 at his place of employment, the CSX Service Center in Waycross.
Body Found Not Far From Where Man's Truck Bogged Down
Ware County Sheriff Ronnie McQuaig (left to right), GBI Agent Jeff Evans, District Attorney Rick Currie,
Waycross Police Chief Tony Tanner and Bacon County Sheriff Richard Foskey answered questions about the Van Streat case Thursday
at Waycross police headquarters.
Photo By GARY GRIFFIN By GARY GRIFFIN, Staff Writer Investigators are hopeful that
by this afternoon preliminary findings would be forthcoming from the state crime lab in Savannah that would show the cause
of death of a man whose body was retrieved late Thursday morning from a cypress swamp in the Beach community. The
body is believed to be that of Van Streat Jr., a Nicholls man who was reported missing Feb. 15. It was found in about 18 inches
of water not more than 400 yards from where Streat's bogged-down truck had been found on Feb. 17, said lawmen at a news conference
Thursday afternoon. Many people had searched the same remote wooded area several times in the past three weeks.
The 100-acre body of water that was three feet deep in places was partially drained and the body became visible. Personnel
from the Ware County Sheriff's Department made the discovery. Until an autopsy is performed and the findings are
released, the investigators are not saying whether or not the death was accidental. One lawman, GBI Special-Agent-In-Charge
Jeff Evans, expressed at Thursday's conference the theory that the man walked into the water. Asked if he thinks
someone put the body there, Evans replied: "I personally do not, no." "Then how did it get there," he was asked.
"I think he had two legs," Evans responded. A reporter then asked: "In other words, he walked in there?"
"Yes," Evans answered. Sheriff Ronnie McQuaig of Ware County said information from a citizen led to
the discovery of the body. The tip was characterized by District Attorney Rick Currie as, "... an inner feeling that if you
search this area you might find him." Lawmen said searchers had already started draining the area before the tip
was phoned in by a citizen of Ware County. "It's like a cypress pond almost, but not quite that deep," said Waycross
Police Chief Tony Tanner in describing the area. Evans called it "a flat area with grass about 5 feet high with
some cypress trees and some big mosquitoes." He said that once the body, which was in a state of decomposition,
was found it was transported to the crime lab and that investigators did little if any on-site examination. Tanner
said preliminary findings from GBI crime lab staff could be released as early as this afternoon. He said the investigative
team would likely know, based on the crime lab results, whether it is dealing with a criminal investigation or an accidental
death. Evans said that about 400 interviews were conducted over the past three weeks as the missing person case
was investigated. He said the three-week search was practically unrelenting. "There has been a (constant) presence
out there," in the area where the truck was discovered, he said, in relating that the area was searched thoroughly. The
27-year-old Streat, the son of former state senator Van Streat Sr., was last seen Feb. 15 in Waycross. Fielding
questions at the conference were Evans, McQuaig, Tanner, Currie and Bacon County Sheriff Richard Foskey.
Court TV Psychic Profiler Volunteers To Help Find Streat
Carla Baron is a psychic profiler who appears on Court TV.
By MYRA THRIFT, Staff Writer A cable television channel psychic is on the Van Streat Jr. case. Court
TV psychic profiler Carla Baron has told the family of the missing Nicholls man she will help in the search for him, although
it was not clear today whether she will be coming to Georgia. Streat, 27, was reported missing nearly three weeks
ago after he failed to show up at the Alma home of a friend after clocking out from work at the CSX Service Center in Waycross.
Searches on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the area of north Ware County where his pickup truck was found turned
up no clues whatsoever, said Elaine Streat, an aunt of Van Streat Jr. "They basically searched the same area, but
widened the radius some around where his truck was found. There were no new clues found," Mrs. Streat said. "We are very excited
to have Carla join us. She has already given us some great insight." Baron has talked at great length with the
immediate family of Van Streat Jr., Elaine Streat said. She said the family was extremely impressed with her professionalism
and her expertise. "She has agreed to be the official psychic profiler of record," said Elaine Streat. "She has
done an initial reading with the closest family members and they are very impressed with her." She said that if
the case merits coverage, the Court TV network will air a segment on Baron's series entitled "Haunting Evidence," which begins
airing in June. "We are desperate," said Elaine Streat. "We just want to know what has happened to him. The not
knowing is the worst thing."
- Waycross Journal Herald 03/06/06
Search Goes On For Van Streat Jr.
Van Streat Jr. has been missing since Wednesday.
Anyone who may have had contact with Streat or knowledge of his whereabouts since Wednesday are urged to contact the
Waycross Police Department the business office at 287-2921, the dispatch center at 287-4335 or by calling The Community Automated
Tip Line at 287-2924.
-Waycross Journal Herald 02/20/06
Streat Still Missing; Volunteers Combing Woods
The search for a Nicholls man who was reported missing on Feb. 16 remains a high priority with family, friends and volunteers
who continue to comb the woods of northern Ware County for the son of a former state senator.
Donnie Lavan "Van" Streat Jr., 27, was reported missing after he failed to show up at the home of a friend in Alma.
Lawmen said Streat left his job at the CSX Service Center in Waycross late in the evening of Feb. 15, allegedly en route to
Alma. His pickup truck was found about 5 o'clock Friday afternoon, partially submerged where a creek had flooded
a dirt road off Beach Road in the northern portion of Ware County. No evidence has been found of Van Streat Jr.
in a three-mile radius of where the truck was found. Waycross Police Chief Tony Tanner said that while law enforcement
personnel are no longer physically involved in the search, "this is still very much an active investigation." He
said investigators have been frustrated because clues have led them nowhere. Streat's uncle, Mike Streat, said
early today that some people have the impression that the search has been called off, but, he said, that is false information.
"We (volunteers) are continuing to search," said Mike Streat. Mike Streat said there have been 60 volunteers
on four-wheelers and several horse riders out searching among the pine trees near the area where his truck was found. He said
no evidence was found in the truck to point to foul play. He said the stress of not knowing where their family
member is has really hit hard and the family needs to be held up in prayer. "We appreciate everything that has
been and is being done to help in the search for him. We have so many volunteers who have helped and (Bacon County) Sheriff
Richard Foskey has gone above and beyond what is expected of him. The whole family is hoping and praying we find him. "We
just ask that everyone keep the family in your prayers and anybody who may have any bit of information, to call the Waycross
Police Department, as they are handling the investigation." Lawmen used helicopters to search for him on Friday
and Saturday, along with about 115 people on the ground, including officers with the Waycross Police Department, the Ware
County Sheriff's Department and the Bacon County Sheriff's Department. Anyone who may have had contact with Streat
or knowledge of his whereabouts since Wednesday is urged to contact the Waycross Police Department at 287-2921, the dispatch
center at 287-4335 or by calling The Community Automated Tip Line at 287-2924.
-Waycross Journal Herald 02/23/06
Copters To Aid Search For Van Streat
The search for Van Streat Jr. is being intensified today, his uncle, Mike Streat, said, as the Bacon County Sheriff's
Department made plans to utilize helicopters for an air search of wooded portions of Ware, Bacon and Coffee counties.
Van Streat Jr., 27, of Nicholls, has been missing for nine days. His pickup truck was found Feb. 17 on Pole Yard
Road in Ware County near the Bacon County line. The missing man's family members and many volunteers have been
searching the woods daily, said Mike Streat, of Blackshear. "We searched all day yesterday," Mike Streat said this
morning, "but we found nothing. Absolutely nothing. We are starting an all-out, full search again this morning. We are going
to intensify the search. But right now, there is just no information. But we will not stop searching for him." He
said the search was to commence today at 9 a.m. at a point not far from where his truck was found. Waycross Police
Chief Tony Tanner, along with other law enforcement personnel, met Thursday afternoon to discuss the case. Tanner said investigators
had nothing concrete to report. He said investigators have searched Streat's home in Coffee County and continue
to interview his family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. He said tips phoned in by the public in Georgia and in neighboring
states are being aggressively pursued as well. He said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has joined the Waycross
Police Department as the lead agencies in the investigation. The Ware County Sheriff's Department, Bacon County
Sheriff's Department, Coffee County Sheriff's Department and the Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office are
assisting in the case. Mike Streat said the family has heard about the many rumors about the case, including reports
that Streat's body was found and delivered to the state crime lab. "There's no truth to any of it," he said. He
said the family is distraught over his nephew's disappearance and he asks that everyone remember the family in prayer. Van
Streat Jr. is a white male with a mustache and beard. He stands 5-foot-10 and weighs about 175 pounds. He has brown hair and
hazel eyes. He was last seen Feb. 15 wearing a CSX uniform. Anyone who may have had contact with Streat or knowledge
of his whereabouts is urged to contact the Waycross Police Department at 287-2921, the dispatch center at 287-4335 or by calling
The Community Automated Tip Line at 287-2924.
-Waycross Journal Herald 02/24/06