Body of LaGrange man recovered in Alabama lake

Published 7:24 pm Sunday, August 27, 2017

By Mitch Sneed
The Alex City Outlook

The body of a LaGrange man who had been missing since Monday evening was recovered at Alabama’s Lake Martin on Sunday afternoon.

After an exhaustive search by countless agencies and volunteers, the body of 44-year-old Thomas Heulan Spence of LaGrange, Georgia was recovered at 4:11 p.m. Sunday in the same general area where he was last seen.

Alexander City Police Department Chief Jay Turner said the 44-year-old man had no known health problems and was physically fit. At about 6 p.m. Monday, the pontoon he and four others were in was parked in a part of the north end of the lake near Camp ASCCA. Spence’s friends told officials that he was in the water and didn’t resurface.

Friday, dogs trained in cadaver recovery alerted divers to a presence not far from where the initial search began and teams restricted traffic in that area all weekend while diving.

Turner said that a presence was located using sonar and that led to the recovery.

“We are thankful that now the family can have some sense of closure,” Orr said. “It has been a very trying week for them and has taken a toll on everyone. We can’t say enough about the outpouring of support and the help from so many agencies, volunteers and individuals. There is no way that we can thank them all enough.”

Those who assisted included: ALEA Marine Unit, the Alexander City / Tallapoosa County Rescue Squad, the Alexander City Police Department, the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department, Alexander City Fire Department, Alabama Conservation Officers, Tallapoosa County EMA, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s State Trooper Aviation Unit, the Montgomery Police Department’s Search and Recovery Dive Unit, the Elmore County Sheriff’s Department Dive Team and the North Alabama Search Dog Association all played roles in the effort.

Groups including the Kellyton Fire Department and Our Town Fire Department, Etowah County Search and Rescue, Lake Martin Search and Rescue, Blount County Search and Rescue and the Daphne Search and Rescue all joined the search in the last few days.  Turner said a specialized sonar that was brought in by the team from Daphne was what ultimately led to the discovery of Spence’s body.

“It was an incredible effort and no one ever gave up hope and literally searched non-stop,” Turner said.