WESTERLY — A body found Wednesday afternoon in a ravine near St. Sebastian Cemetery is believed to be that of a Pawcatuck man, Daniel Holly, 52, who was reported missing last week, according to Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey.

Westerly police, fire and ambulance personnel were called to the area near the Pawcatuck River at 2:13 p.m. after a man who was walking his dog reported seeing something suspicious in wetlands just southwest of the cemetery. The man, who lives nearby, retrieved binoculars from his home and called the police after realizing it was a body.

"He told us he had read about the missing man in the paper and feared it might be him," Lacey said. The victim's description, including clothing, matched that of Holly at the time of his disappearance. "We have not made a formal positive ID yet but we do suspect this to be Holly," Lacey said.

Officials said that Holly's family has been notified.

The area was immediately cordoned off, with officers closing Margin Street at its intersection with Clark Street.

The cause of death has not been determined. The Office of the State Medical Examiners was called to remove the body, and an autopsy was expected to be done on Thursday, officials said. Lacey said it was "too early" to determine if there was any evidence of foul play.

Stonington Police Capt. Todd Olson said detectives from his department would continue to assist in the investigation as needed.

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.

Earlier Wednesday, Westerly and Stonington detectives had spent four hours using sonar and other equipment to search the river. Lacey said that moments after the two departments had called off that effort, the body was discovered.

Lacey confirmed Wednesday that Holly and another man who was known to him were at Westerly Hospital on May 31 and both were released around 3 a.m. on June 1. Surveillance images from the hospital showed Holly walking west along Wells Street; it was the last time he was seen.

"We know he's been here for a while, at least several days, but we don't know exactly how long he has been dead," Lacey said from the scene. "We don't really know much else, but we are hopeful the autopsy will give us more."

jvallee@thewesterlysun.com

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