WESTERLY — An autopsy has confirmed that the body found in a ravine near St. Sebastian Cemetery on Wednesday was that of a Pawcatuck man who was reported missing last week. Officials said the cause of death remains unknown pending further testing.
Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said an autopsy conducted through the Office of the State Medical Examiners at 10 a.m. determined that the victim was Daniel Holly, 52, who was last seen leaving Westerly Hospital early on June 1.
"There are still too many factors to determine exactly what the cause of death may be," Lacey said. "The autopsy found no evidence of foul play. That could change, but as of now there are no signs."
Lacey said Thursday that there are still more questions than answers as the investigation continues.
The body was found around 2 p.m. A man who said he walks his dog near the cemetery called to report seeing the body in the wetlands near the southwestern corner of the cemetery. Lacey clarified Thursday that the man is not a resident of the neighborhood but works for a business along Main Street. He told the police he paused when seeing the body and returned with binoculars because he was aware from previous news reports that Holly was missing and feared it might be him.
Holly was reported missing after family and friends indicated that no one had heard from him since June 1. The Stonington Police Department issued an alert on Friday seeking help from the public.
Lacey said that about a week ago, someone turned in Holly's wallet to the police after it was found along John Street. He cautioned that the department does not know how long it may have lay by the roadside before being discovered.
Based on interviews and surveillance images, the police determined that Holly was intoxicated when he was taken to Westerly Hospital on May 31. He was treated and released, and was said to have left the hospital around 1 a.m., the police said on Thursday.
When his body was found on Wednesday, the clothes were the same clothes as those that Holly was wearing when he left the hospital, the police said. Lacey said the autopsy was necessary to make a positive identification.
Lacey said the department still believes that Holly likely died shortly after leaving Westerly Hospital, based on certain information, but that the exact time of death would also be dependent on the results of further testing through the medical examiner's office. He said it was also unclear what impact that heavy rains since his disappearance may have had in moving the body.
"There are still a lot of factors at play here, a lot of unknowns that we need to try and account for," he said.