GULFPORT, Miss. — DNA tests have confirmed a body found on July 29 floating near Ship Island was that of 46-year-old Varrick Demont Hester of Southaven.
Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove tells The Sun Herald (http://bit.ly/1aFMIkq ) Hester was wearing a shirt with a distinctive emblem, which is how authorities were able to find a family member and obtain a DNA sample from Hester's brother.
The test results came in Thursday.
An autopsy showed Hester drowned. His death was ruled an accident.
Hargrove said his office and the Harrison County Sheriff's Office have been "working diligently" over the past six weeks to learn Hester's name.
Hester had no identification on him when a boater found his remains. His body had been in the water at least four or five days.
Hargrove said numerous calls were made to find people associated with the organization from the emblem on the man's shirt. Hester often visited South Mississippi but his relatives didn't know he was here, Hargrove said.
Investigators found witnesses who remembered seeing a man who matched his description sitting on a park bench near the Long Beach Harbor.
"They said they saw him sitting there two days in a row but they didn't see him the third day," Hargrove said.
Investigators found his vehicle at a nearby apartment complex.