November 24, 2014

Elyria
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Bodies of missing kayakers believed found

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office tentatively identified two bodies found in Lake Erie on Friday.

The first body — found at 11:15 a.m. between Huron and Vermilion — is believed to be 12-year-old Viola Francis. Investigators believe the second body belongs to Viola’s father, Jonathan Francis, who was found by fishermen on the west side of Cedar Point just hours later.

Viola Francis and her father Jonathan Francis were last seen kayaking in the Sandusky Bay near Crystal Rock, Margaretta Township, on April 6. Their kayaks were found empty and washed up in Ottawa County a day later.

Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said the identification was made because the jewelry and clothing on the body matched those that Viola Francis was wearing when she went missing, and the body resembles Viola Francis. The body believed to be Jonathan Francis was tentatively identified from a unique tattoo on the man’s arm, Detective Paul Defazio said.

The bodies were taken to the Lucas County Coroner, where autopsies will be done, but Sigsworth said there’s no indication of foul play.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office will wait for toxicology reports before making a positive identification, Defazio said.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.