Gary Levin update: Lyft driver missing for more than 1 week has died, daughter says

The missing Florida man's car was found with a murder suspect in North Carolina.

By6abc Digital Staff WPVI logo
Thursday, February 9, 2023
Missing Lyft driver with ties to Philadelphia has died, daughter says
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Police in Florida and North Carolina had been searching for Gary Levin for more than a week

PHILADELPHIA -- A missing Florida Lyft driver has died, according to a family member.

"At this time my family and I are asking for privacy so we can process the unfortunate information we have received," said Lindsay DiBetta on Tuesday. She is the daughter of 74-year-old Gary Levin.

Police in Florida and North Carolina had been searching for Levin for more than a week. His car was found in North Carolina and the man who was driving it, Matthew Flores, was wanted in connection with a homicide in southwest Florida.

Levin hadn't been heard from since Jan. 30 when his family says he picked up a customer in Delray Beach, Florida. His red 2022 Kia Stinger was spotted in Miami that day, then in a rural area north of Lake Okeechobee and later in north Florida, officials said.

The vehicle was seen on Feb. 2 in North Carolina after the U.S. Marshal's regional task force asked authorities to be on the lookout. Matthew Flores was arrested following a police chase through three counties, Rutherford County, North Carolina Sheriff Aaron Ellenburg told The Associated Press.

The sheriff said Flores fled briefly on foot before he was apprehended and taken to a hospital for an evaluation. He was later booked into the county jail, and the vehicle was taken to a secure location, the sheriff said.

Flores, 35, was being held on no bond for a parole violation and a $615,000 bond for charges in North Carolina that include eluding law enforcement, speeding and intoxicated driving. He is also facing a second-degree murder charge stemming from the fatal shooting last month of Jose Carlos Martinez in Wauchula, Florida.

He has not been charged in Levin's death.

SEE ALSO | Missing Florida Lyft driver's car found with murder suspect in North Carolina

Authorities are investigating how Flores obtained Levin's vehicle. Levin's family said they do not know whether Flores was the passenger Levin picked up in Delray Beach on Jan. 30.

A man's body was found in a wooded area over the weekend, not far from Levin's last known location. Authorities in Florida have not publicly confirmed the identity of those remains.

Gary Levin's son Jonathan said his father would not just take off on a whim.

He said the last time they spoke was about the Philadelphia Eagles winning the NFC Championship.

"I spoke to my dad last on Sunday night. He's a great football fan, and we were jubilant on FaceTime that our Eagles were going to the Super Bowl. And dad was in a really good place on Monday," Jonathan Levin said.

"My dad was truly a one-of-kind person, if you knew him or even met him once you know exactly what I mean when I say that. The stories I have received about him from friends, family and complete strangers over the last week have lifted me up more than you can ever realize," said Lindsay DiBetta. "We will be announcing information on services in my father's honor in the next few days."

Gary Levin had no known medical conditions.

Family members have not revealed the cause of Levin's death.