West Virginia delayed Donofrio identification, Ohio official says
The lapse in time between the discovery of James Donofrio’s body in the Ohio River and the entry of autopsy findings into a national missing persons database is the reason it took a full year for his remains to be identified, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s office.
Donofrio of Boardman, 64, owner of the former Avalon Gardens restaurant and bar, was reported missing on Sept. 26, 2011, by his wife, Rosanne.
His body was recovered after it was discovered by a fisherman March 25, 2012, on the Ohio side of the Ohio River, a quarter mile south of Clarington, Ohio. The remains were identified on Tuesday by the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office as those of Donofrio.
Because West Virginia has jurisdiction over the entire river, the body went to the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.
West Virginia authorities did not enter the dental and physical characteristics information from the autopsy into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System database until March 27, 2013, said Dan Tierney, a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which is part of the AG’s office, has a missing persons unit that works with local law enforcement to find missing people.
Asked to explain the one-year delay, Tierney said: “That would be a question for West Virginia.”
Marsha Dadisman, public information officer for the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office, did not respond to a request for comment on the delay. As of Tuesday, that office had not issued an official cause of death.
Youngstown Police Chief Rod Foley declined to comment on the delay because he said he did not have complete information on it, but he did say that the West Virginia pathologist assigned to the case is on sick leave, and that city police cannot obtain the autopsy report until he returns to work.
Read more in Thursday’s Vindicator.