VALRICO, Fla. — The body of a man who earlier on Tuesday was carjacked at gunpoint was found behind a church in Valrico, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
- Carjacking took place after bank robbery
- Mathew Korattiyil, 68, missing for several hours before body was found
- James Hanson, 39, in custody, being interviewed
- More Hillsborough County stories
Mathew Korattiyil's body was found outside the Sacred Heart Knanaya Catholic Community Center. The church is less than five minutes from the CenterState Bank location where the incident began.
"This is not the outcome any of our deputies hoped for after working tirelessly to locate Mr. Korattiyil," said Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister in a media release. "We committed nearly 100 deputies and members of the FBI to searching for him, but unfortunately this innocent man's life was taken at a location less than five minutes from where he was kidnapped."
The agency is waiting for the county medical examiner to make a determination as to the cause of Korattiyil's death.
Korattiyil, 68, had been missing since a man carjacked him at gunpoint after a bank robbery at the CentreState Bank Tuesday morning.
About 40 minutes after the robbery and a short pursuit, the suspect in the robbery and carjacking, James Hanson, 39 crashed Korattiyil's stolen vehicle near the intersection of S. St. Cloud Avenue and State Road 60. He was then taken into custody.
There was no sign of Korattiyil at that time, prompting the search.
Hanson, according to the Sheriff's Office, has a lengthy criminal history with charges in multiple states. Past charges against him in Florida include burglary with assault and battery, burglary of dwelling with assault, grand theft, trespassing after warning, and robbery with a firearm.
James Hanson, 39, seen here in this 2015 mug shot, was taken into custody by Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office deputies on Tuesday, August 6, 2019, after he led them on a short pursuit. Hanson is a suspect in a Valrico bank robbery and subsequent carjacking earlier in the day. (Courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)
Victim loved by his community
Friends of Mathew Korattiyil we spoke to Tuesday evening as they stood outside the church where his body was found said they were all still in shock. They said they spent time at the community center socializing, never dreaming their friend's body would one day be discovered in the woods behind the building.
"This person was a very nice person," said friend Joemi Joseph. "Very gentle. He helps anyone who needs anything from him."
Valrico residents were also stopping by the convenience store Korattiyil owned for years, bringing flowers and sharing stories about the man they called "friendly", "kind", and "loved."
"He was just nice and he was so funny," said customer Christina Dimauro. "He was always talking to you when you came in the store. It wasn't just a pass-by, it wasn't like you were just another customer. He knew everybody, he knew the regulars, mostly what you wanted. He'd even tell you what you wanted when you walked in the door."
Residents say he sold the store recently and was focusing on other things. Friends say he was part of a tight-knit family, a family that's now struggling with loss.
"It shouldn't have happened, but it happened," said friend Stephen Puelikel.
Mathew Korattityil (Courtesy of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office)