A fisherman checking on his boat in Edgartown Harbor made a grisly discovery Monday when he found a dead body on a small stretch of beach at the end of Morse street.
The fisherman first alerted Edgartown police of the discovery at 4:16 p.m. The body was reportedly male and found face down on the beach, surrounded by broken branches and beach grass uprooted up by the powerful storm that hit the Island this week.
The body was found near Edgartown Marine, one block north of the Chappy ferry landing.
Edgartown police officer David Rossi and state police trooper David Parent were among the first to arrive at the scene, along with town harbor master Charles Blair.
State police are handling the investigation, and the remains of the body were taken into custody by the Massachusetts chief medical examiner’s office through the Chapman Cole & Gleason Funeral Home late Monday evening.
The medical examiner’s office was expected to perform an autopsy earlier this week to identify the body and determine the cause of death. As of late yesterday afternoon, results of the autopsy were unavailable.
Brian Glenny, the first assistant district attorney for Cape and Islands district attorney Michael O’Keefe, said he was unable to provide further details until results of the autopsy were released.
News of the discovery spread quickly around the Island this week, along with other reports about the large breach opened at Norton Point Beach by this week’s powerful storm. Although it is unclear what role the storm played in the washed-up body, the powerful northeaster did unearth a number of things at Katama, including the remains of a 52-foot fin back whale that was buried at Norton Point two years ago.
Unconfirmed reports circulated that the body was either Renato Da Rocha, a 48-year-old native of Brazil who went missing last April or of a fisherman who was lost at sea in January when the Lady of Grace of New Bedford sank in Nantucket Sound east of Cape Pogue. Police have been searching for Mr. Da Rocha since he was first reported missing last May, and by June law enforcement authorities shifted their attention from a missing person investigation to a search for a dead body, using specially trained dogs.
Both police and the Cape and Islands district attorney’s office declined to comment on the reports.
One witness, who asked not be identified but was at the scene when the body was recovered, confirmed that the body was a male who appeared to be in his late 30s or early 40s.
The witness said that although the body was badly decomposed, it did not have the appearance of having been in the ocean for a long time. The witness noted that uprooted beach grass found near the body matches the kind found along the south shore of the Island.