JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ A homicide charge against a man who told police he had strangled his wife during an argument at the beach was reduced after the ''victim'' walked into the police department.

Maurice Antonio Nesbitt told police Saturday he had strangled his wife, Brenda Joyce, 24, in knee-high surf off Jacksonville Beach. No body was found, but Nesbitt was charged with murder.

After his wife showed up, Nesbitt was charged Monday with filing a false police report, a misdemeanor, said Detective John Bradley.

Mrs. Nesbitt, who has filed for divorce, told police she left town Saturday after her husband refused to leave her alone after an argument, Bradley said. ''She was kind of shocked at first. She knew she wasn't dead. She thinks he needs some help.''

Police searched two hours Saturday for the woman's body.