Investigators work to identify human remains, possibly connected to missing South Florida Lyft driver

OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla. – Investigators are working to identify human remains found close to where a Palm Beach Gardens man went missing last week.

Authorities in Central Florida have a warrant charging Matthew Flores with the second-degree murder of a man in Wauchula. He could face more charges in the disappearance of e 74-year-old Gary Levin.

Flores is in jail on a probation violation on drug and assault charges in Hendersonville, North Carolina in 2020.

The head of the Rutherford County Public Defender’s Office, which is defending Flores, believes prosecutors want to bring back the man who deputies said they caught driving a missing Lyft driver’s car on Thursday.

“I’m certain that as soon as they arrested Mr. Flores, that the State of Florida, because of the seriousness of the charges, already started the extradition process,” said Laura Powell, Rutherford County Public Defender.

In court last week, Flores said he was caught while trying to drive to Hendersonville, where he is wanted on a probation violation.

Flores left prison last may after serving a year and a half for drug possession and assault.

Flores more recent high-speed chase ended Thursday afternoon, when deputies said they caught Flores running away after driving the Kia owned by Levin.

After Central Florida prosecutors charged Flores with the murder of a man in Wauchula, a North Carolina judge set the bond at $2 million.

“Unfortunately, a lot of bad stuff and bad people come through our county. This is actually the third murder suspect that we arrested since I’ve taken office December 5th,” said Aaron Ellenburg, Rutherford County Sheriff.

It is still to be determined exactly what charges Flores will face in connection with the disappearance of Lyft driver Gary Levin.

The murder charges in Wauchula alone are far more serious than those stemming from Flores’ alleged probation violations and last week’s high-speed chase led to his arrest.

Meantime, Okeechobee officials are working to identify whether those human remains found over the weekend are that of Gary Levin.

About the Author:

Eden Checkol co-anchors Local 10's 10 p.m. weeknight newscast on WSFL and also reports on WPLG newscasts. She’s a Minnesota native who is thrilled to leave the snow behind and call South Florida home.