Birthmark on headless torso found on beach matches one on Irish filmmaker Ross McDonnell: police

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023
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BREEZY POINT, Queens (WABC) -- A birthmark on the torso of the headless body recovered in the Rockaways last week is believed to match the one on a missing Irish filmmaker.

"We believe the body to be that of Ross McDonnell," a senior police official said Tuesday, adding confirmation is pending further study, including toxicology and DNA reports.

The NYPD is working with the Irish consulate to obtain DNA from his family in Ireland.

McDonnell was reported missing in the confines of the 79th precinct in Brooklyn on Nov. 6. Detectives recovered video of him leaving his home at 10:32 p.m. on Nov. 4. His wallet and cellphone were left at home.

His bicycle and cellphone were found on Nov. 9, while the body was discovered last Friday. His bike was secured on a rack and locked, which detectives believe means he intended to come back for it.

With the assistance of the U.S. park police, bloodhounds followed his scent to the edge of a rock jetty, where clothing was found. A swimsuit McDonnell was known to wear was recovered.

McDonnell's friends learned of the recovery from the Citizen App and rushed to the scene. They shared photographs of the victim wearing a red Adidas swimsuit. Friends tell detectives the clothes found -- brand and size -- were consistent with what McDonnell normally wore.

They were also able to provide photographs of McDonnell with a birthmark on his torso that matched the birthmark on the body that was discovered.

McDonnell was an avid swimmer, known in Ireland for 'wild swimming,' where he would just go out into the ocean, and he was known to do this.

The body recovered had no head and arms, an indication that the surf and undertow churned his body over the rocks off the Rockaways numerous times.

It appears that he drowned.


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