Floating Bodies Update: One Suspect Charged, Two Cases Still Unsolved

Let's call it the Week of the Floaters: Since Monday, three mysterious corpses have bobbed to the surface in waterways around the metro area.

Saddled with three new homicide investigations, Miami detectives have made progress in at least one case this morning.

Last night, police arrested a man suspected of fatally stabbing the victim whose body washed up out of Biscayne Bay yesterday morning around 6:30. A passerby noticed a dead man -- who has still not been identified -- floating in the canal behind Coconut Grove's Peacock Park.

Police soon found a witness who reported he was asleep on a nearby houseboat when he awoke to screaming and his friend, 51-year-old Arthur Johnson, holding a blood-dripping knife next to the profusely bleeding victim. The witness asked Johnson what happened.

"I tried to stab him in the heart," Johnson said, just before the victim plunged into the bay. "So I stabbed him again."

Johnson has been charged with first-degree murder. And Miami Police still have two other cases on their hands: a man's body spotted floating in the Tamiami Canal near the Dolphin Expressway yesterday, and a man found dead in the water under the Rickenbacker Causeway Monday.

A man who lives near the Tamiami Canal called police around 3:30 yesterday to report he'd spotted a body in the water, says Officer Kenia Reyes, a spokeswoman for the department.

Cops pulled out a dead Hispanic man in his 40s or 50s, Reyes says. They haven't identified the victim yet. Homicide detectives are investigating but haven't yet determined if the man was murdered.

This week of floaters began Monday when a 45-year-old career criminal named Ernesto Puentes washed up dead under the Rickenbacker.

Puentes has multiple felony charges on his record dating back to 1992 and five convictions for armed burglary and kidnapping. Police are investigating his case as a homicide.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink