DeWine Offers View on Delay in Donofrio Case

On Thursday, more information was learned about the timeline involved in identifying the remains of the late Jim Donofrio, whose body was identified more than a year after it was recovered from the Ohio River in West Virginia.

Authorities with the Ohio Attorney General’s office confirmed that while a profile of Donofrio was entered on a nationwide missing person’s database soon after he disappeared in 2011, employees with the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s office never added information they had obtained until late last month, which was almost almost a year after his body had been found.

The one-time owner of the old Avalon Gardens was positively identified on Tuesday, which was less than two weeks after the information was entered. Officials used dental records to make the match.

“We have the databases because we know people move from state to state and the only way we really can compare is by these national databases. They’re only as good though as the information that’s put on them,” Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “We have to encourage every state to be entering that data in a timely manner because what we can find out from Ohio is directly dependent on what was put in from other states. ”

A spokesperson from the Medical Examiner’s office in Charleston, W. Va., said she was not able to speak about the case because state law limits disclosure of a dead person’s information to the public. She said the autopsy report on Donofrio has not yet been completed and the office does not provide preliminary findings.

She also said autopsy and investigative findings performed by the medical examiner’s office are confidential and not subject to public records laws.

“Related generally to cases of unidentified decedents, the WVOCME makes every effort possible to identify the remains using all methods and systems available to us, such as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, to resolve these cases. The time taken to resolve cases varies with each case,” a statement from the medical examiner’s office said.

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.

Police found his abandoned Land Rover along the banks of the Mahoning River near downtown Youngstown the next day and 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.

His body was foundMarch 25, 2012, near Route 7 in Clarington near the West Virginia-Ohio border, about 128 river miles from where his Land Rover was found.

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