James Donofrio, Missing for 18 Months, Found Dead

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The body of James Donofrio, who has been missing for more than 18 months, was found dead in southern Ohio.

Youngstown police said West Virginia State Medical Examiners matched Donofrio’s dental records after he was found March 25, 2012, near Route 7 in Clarington near the West Virginia-Ohio border, about 128 river miles from where Donofrio’s Land Rover was found abandoned on the banks of the Mahoning River in Youngstown.

Authorities said Donofrio’s body was found along the Ohio River about 130 miles downstream, near the town of Clarington, in Monroe County, Ohio, which is about an hour south of Steubenville.  Because West Virginia has jurisdiction over the waterway, the investigation is being handled by that state’s Medical Examiner’s Office.

At this point, local police have only a little information to go on about what happened to Donofrio or why it’s taken until now to identify him.

A cause of death has not yet been determined. Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley said Tuesday the initial autopsy showed no obvious signs of foul play.

Donofrio, 64, was reported missing Sept. 26, 2011.  Family members had last heard from Donofrio hours earlier as he was on his way to the Avalon Gardens restaurant on Belmont Avenue, which he owned.

Over the weeks that followed, police searched up and down for him, divers went into the river and even an Ohio State Highway Patrol helicopter flew over the area to look for clues, but none were ever found.

Local police are waiting for a more complete report from authorities in West Virginia on what they may have found. WTOV-9 in Steubenville reported at the time a body was pulled from the Ohio River that was pinned between two logs. The body was unclothed at the time, according to the report.

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