Body found in N.Y. river is missing Carroll man

Ruling on manner of death will take at least a week

June 09, 2005|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

A body found in the Hudson River has been identified as that of a missing 22-year-old college student from Carroll County, but a spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for New York City said yesterday that a ruling on the cause of death will take a week or more.

Patrick Michael Welsh, of Sykesville, a student at York College of Pennsylvania, had been reported missing in late April. He was last seen boarding a train at 12:45 p.m. April 15 at an Amtrak station in Harrisburg, Pa., headed for a weekend visit with friends in New York City, according to the Maryland State Police. On April 22, his father, Michael J. Welsh, reported his son missing, and the family mounted an appeal for information in his disappearance.

Grace Brugess, a spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner's office, said it had not been determined whether the death was a homicide, suicide or accident, "pending further testing that will take a week to 10 days." A New York police spokesman said his department would await that ruling before proceeding.

"If they even can determine it," said Maryland State Police spokesman Thornnie Rouse. For now at least, "it's being classified as a death investigation," Rouse said.

The young man's identity was confirmed Tuesday, after dental records were sent to New York on Monday by Maryland State Police investigators, police said. The decomposed body was found at 12:50 p.m. June 2 in the 79th Street boat basin, off Manhattan in the Hudson River.

The family was notified Tuesday evening, police said. The family could not be reached yesterday to comment.

Welsh, a graduate of Liberty High School, used his cellular telephone at least once in the Manhattan area April 15, Rouse said. After the phone was used by another person April 18, a manhunt was launched and police located John Dennis Koppinger, a homeless man who told police he had found the phone and used it to call his own family.

New York police held Koppinger on minor charges in a New Jersey warrant, while troopers from the Westminster barracks traveled to New York on May 4 to interview him. He was not charged in connection with Welsh's disappearance.

Police also checked on a lead that Welsh might have gone off to follow a favorite band, officials said.

At York College, spokeswoman Cobey Dietrich said she could not disclose information about Welsh during his few semesters at the college.

A memorial service has been scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Haight Funeral Home and Chapel at 6416 Sykesville Road, near Sykesville.

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