VERO BEACH - At press time, the death of 24-year old community activist John Michael Kim remains a mystery.
On Sept. 19 at 10:36 a.m., the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook a missing/endangered adult notice, along with this plea:
“Have you seen John Michael Kim? He was last seen at the gate of Portofino Shores near Lakewood Park on Monday morning. Since being reported missing, the Sheriff's Office has conducted aerial searches of the surrounding area and detectives are continuing to canvass the neighborhood for information. If you have seen John Kim, please contact detectives.”
A flyer posted and distributed to media said that Mr. Kim had been reported missing by a family member on Sept. 18.
“John was last seen at the Guard Gate at Portofino Shores where he lives with his Aunt,” the flyer read. “On Sept. 17, John was at Filthy’s Bar in Vero Beach. After some type of argument, a cab was called for him at approximately 0030 that morning.”
“The cab driver and guard gate attendant last saw the subject at approx. 0100 hours when he got out of the cab and ran into the neighborhood. As of 1200 the subject’s vehicle was still in the parking lot of the bar in Vero Beach. Family members stated this is behavior that is not like John at all.”
In a noon press conference on Sept. 19, St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken Mascara said that after 35 volunteers had canvassed the neighborhood all night, “just a half hour ago it was discovered that there was a body floating in the lake adjacent to where he exited the cab and ran. So we’re presuming that is him. We don’t know for sure, but everything points to that.”
At 4:23 p.m. on Sept, 19, the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office announced on Facebook that “the body located in a lake inside the Portofino Shores neighborhood has been positively identified as John Michael Kim.”
No cause of death was announced.
A funeral service was held for Mr. Kim on Sept. 23 at Christ Church in Vero Beach.
In 2016, John Kim ran for the Indian River County School Board for District 5. Mr. Kim earned 39.68 percent, 11,459 votes in his loss to Tiffany Justice.
It was John Kim’s first time running for public office. Colleagues and community leaders were impressed with his campaign and his concern for the community, and expected him to seek public office again.
When Hometown News interviewed Mr. Kim for that campaign, he stressed expanding vocational education as one of his primary objectives. “Not every child could, should, or would go to college, and that is perfectly fine,” Mr. Kim said. “However, they need an equal opportunity to success.”
John Kim was also an advocate of special needs education and literacy efforts.
“I want to increase support to children with special needs,” Mr. Kim told Hometown News in the summer of 2016. “Support inclusionary policy as much as possible for each individual student. Increase individual attention for each student and increase resource support for our teachers.”
“I will also focus on improving early childhood education. By increasing childhood literacy rates, our children will increase their ability to graduate on time and earn a career. Improving early learning will allow our children to learn more throughout the academic career.”
In his candidate conversation with Hometown News, Mr. Kim emphasized his pride in being born and raised in Indian River County and attending public schools.
John Kim was also involved with his family’s well-known produce business, Young’s Market.
Mr. Kim spent time working for Congressman Bill Posey, State Representative Debbie Mayfield, and the Republican Party of Florida, Tallahassee.
John Kim volunteered for Camp Haven transitional home for the homeless, Indian River County’s Metropolitan Planning Organization Citizens Advisory Committee, and the Vero Beach Planning and Zoning Board.
Mr. Kim received a Bachelor of Science degree from Florida State University.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Salvation Army, P.O. Box, 2864, Vero Beach, Florida 32961.
Anyone with information about the death of John Kim should call St. Lucie County Sheriff Detective Dionisio, (772) 462-3260 or 359-6347.