GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Friends of John Butler say something isn't right.
The 69-year-old hasn't been seen since Monday evening when he left a restaurant near the Green Cove Springs Marina. He was heading home to his houseboat parked just off the docks.
"We're hoping that he's not in the water, but right now we're assuming that until we know otherwise," said Detective James Acres of the Green Cove Springs Police Department.
Acres says dive teams have been searching the chilly St. Johns River since Butler was reported missing Thursday by friends who fear the worst. Robert Speakman is one of those friends, who says Butler rarely changes his routine.
"He comes to the marina office every morning for coffee, then he heads to work. It's uncharacteristic for him not to proceed the way he always has, so something definitely is going on."
Speakman describes Butler as a good, happy man, who is loved by all who know him.
"I don't think there's anybody that doesn't think pretty highly of J.B."
Speakman agrees with police suspicion that Butler has likely drowned.
Butler's dinghy was found only partially tied to his houseboat, which is how he went back and forth to the dock everyday. Speakman says Butler was a cautious boater who always made sure his dinghy was secure.
Detectives think he fell overboard when boarding the houseboat. They searched the water between the boat and dock Thursday until sundown, but say this week's weather conditions and mud in the water have made that search difficult. The search will resume Friday morning.
"No matter what, we're going to have to find him one way or another to have closure on it. There's no other way. We've just got to put our hands on him whatever happened," said Speakman.
Police say Butler may have been drinking prior to his return home Monday. He has a daughter living in New York, but attempts to reach her have been unsuccessful.
If you have information on John Butler's whereabouts, call the Green Cove Springs Police Department at (904) 297-7300.