Just weeks after the body of a 20-year-old Duke University student, Michael Doherty, was found in a wooded area near his home in Franklin, Massachusetts, authorities revealed that his death was ruled an accident. ABC 11 reports that when Doherty returned to his home for summer break after completing his sophomore year, he went to a party on May 14 with his childhood friends.
Doherty, a mechanical engineering major, was reported missing by his parents after he failed to return home. After a week-long search for the missing man, the Duke University student’s body was found by a civilian on Saturday, May 20 around 2:30 p.m. in a wooded area near Interstate 495, an area located near a swamp. He was reportedly walking home from a party, but he never made it to his destination.
His parents stated that he had a “planned ride home,” but when decided to stay late, there was a change of plans. It was reported that Doherty tried to contact his brothers, but they had already gone to sleep—that’s when he decided to walk home in heavy rain.
Deputy Chief James Mill stated that it appears that when Doherty was trying to walk to his home, he took “Oak Street Extension and crossed over Mine Brook to Bellingham’s Maplegate Country Club, where one of his shoes was found. Doherty then crossed back into Franklin before ending up near Rte. 495.”
“It looked like he was trying to fight his way back home,” Mill said.
Although it was not immediately clear what happened to Doherty on the night he went missing, Police Chief Thomas Lynch stated that there was no evidence of foul play. He added that “the thoughts and prayers of all the members of the Franklin Police Department and all of the other agencies that participated in searching for Michael go out to the Doherty family in this time of great tragedy.”
Kristen Brown, a spokesperson for Duke University, released the following statement after learning of Doherty’s death: “We have heard the sad news about the police report and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the Doherty family during this difficult time.”
Randy Alford, who lives in the area, stated that the town was aware of Doherty’s disappearance and when he learned that the Duke University student was missing, he searched the areas nearby.
“It’s a 20-year-old kid – I have a 14-year-old, and it’s really hard to think about it,” said Alford. “I have had a talk with him about it – how worried his parents must be.” Although he “sympathizes with the family,” he was glad that they found Doherty so that they can have closure.
Local resident, Julia Santucci, told reporters that she would often walk near the area where Doherty’s body was found, adding that she “feel bad for the mother and father. At least now they’ve found him.”
Weeks after Doherty was found in a wooded area near his home, the state medical examiner stated that the Duke University’s student “hypothermia brought about by prolonged exposure to atmospheric cold.”
According to the Boston Globe, “temperatures were in the 40s and 50s” on the night Doherty went missing.
“We find no evidence of foul play in Mr. Doherty’s death,” Norfolk District Attorney Michael Morrissey said in a statement on Friday. “Our thoughts are very much with the Doherty family as they grieve Michael and live through this tragic time.”
“The Franklin Police, State Police and regional law enforcement spared no effort in searching for Michael, and the larger Franklin community was exemplary in its support of those efforts and his family. We all wish the result of that effort had been different.”
[Featured Image by Maxiphoto/iStock]