Family overwhelmed with grief after discovery of missing Boston College student’s body in reservoir

Police gathered at the normally peaceful reservoir, where a body identified as BC student Franco Garcia was discovered today.
Police gathered at the normally peaceful reservoir, where a body identified as BC student Franco Garcia was discovered today.
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

NEWTON—The parents of Franco Garcia were overwhelmed by grief this afternoon but surrounded by friends and relatives, as they tried to absorb the sad news that their missing son had been found in the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.

Franco Garcia

Jose Garcia, Franco’s father, tightly clasped his hands together in front of his face as he stood on the sidewalk near the family’s Webster Street home, his eyes red and teary.

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“It’s just so tough right now for the family,” he said before walking back into the house.

Franco’s mother, Luzmila Garcia, sat on the front steps, crying profusely, before being led back in the house by two women who were sitting with her.

Garcia, 21, a Boston College student and Newton resident went missing on Feb. 22. Authorities said today that a body recovered in the reservoir had been tentatively identified as belonging to Garcia. A passerby spotted the body around 8 a.m. floating about 18 feet from shore in murky water filled with dense weeds, authorities said.

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said that the body of a male, 20 to 30 years old, matched the general description of Garcia, and that the clothing on the body appeared to be consistent with the clothing Garcia was wearing the night he disappeared. Conley said there were personal items on the body also suggesting it was Garcia.

He said the preliminary identification, which authorities had shared with the Garcia family, would have to be confirmed by an autopsy, which could take place today, Thursday, or Friday.

Calling it “a sad day” for the family, he said State Police detectives from his office, in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, would investigate—and were already at work trying to reconstruct what happened in the last hours of Garcia’s life.

“By every measurement, Franco was an outstanding young man ... an aspiring student who was very close to his family,” Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn said at a midday news conference at the reservoir.

Garcia, 21, was a talented clarinetist who performed with the college marching and pep bands. A junior, he worked during the day at a CVS in Waltham, while taking classes at night at Woods College of Advancing Studies, BC’s night school. He lived off campus with his family in West Newton, said Dunn.

On the Twitter account they have maintained since his disappearance, the Garcia family posted, “Prayers and tears. We’ll love and miss you forever, Franco.”

In late February, State Police had used both teams of divers and sonar to search the reservoir for Garcia, who had disappeared after socializing with friends at a nearby Cleveland Circle bar.

State Police spokesman David Procopio said the search had lasted four days. He noted that “visibility was not perfect,” with heavy weed conditions in some area from the invasive plant milfoil.

But he said State Police had been “tireless” in their efforts to find Garcia’s body.

Garcia was at Mary Ann’s bar on Beacon Street in Cleveland Circle on the night of Feb. 21, but left around 12:15 a.m., apparently heading back to the BC campus where his car was parked, a walk that would take him past the reservoir.

A surveillance camera at a Citizens Bank ATM in Cleveland Circle captured an image of him striding past, seemingly unharmed and unworried.

After the discovery of the body today, Garcia family members huddled with law enforcement officials in a nearby parking lot some distance away from gathered reporters. A Boston College van then arrived and drove off with many of the relatives.

Onlookers and law enforcement officials stood along the perimeter of the reservoir, which State Police treated like a crime scene, with troopers blocking walking paths used daily by residents.