Dismembered Body Believed to be Missing Filmmaker

 Dismembered Body Believed to be Missing Filmmaker

By Katie McFadden

Some shocking news rattled the peninsula on Friday, November 17, as a body missing its head and arms was found on the beach near the Silver Gull in Breezy Point.

Just after noon on Friday, police responded to a 911 call regarding the gruesome discovery. The officers from the 100th Precinct came across an unidentified human torso with legs attached laying on the sand. A Medical Examiner was later brought in to determine the cause of death.

As the news spread, New Yorkers began to suspect the worst about what may have happened and who it was. The discovery came almost two weeks after 44-year-old Ross McDonnell, an Emmy-award winning cinematographer and photographer was reported missing. McDonnell, originally from Dublin, Ireland, left his Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn apartment on the night of Saturday, November 4. At 10:30 p.m., he was seen on camera leaving his building on his bike, with a backpack, khaki pants and a puffy vest on the 61-degree fall day.

Friends became concerned when McDonnell didn’t show up for dinner plans on Sunday. On Monday, November 6, they discovered his apartment empty, and notified police. According to a blog post by McDonnell’s friend, Ioan Grillo, another friend and fellow filmmaker, Gene Gallerano, was aware that McDonnell had been going on some wild swims over the last year and frequented Fort Tilden. By Tuesday morning, November 7, Gallerano and U.S. Park Police discovered McDonnell’s bike double locked to a bike rack in Fort Tilden, but there was no sign of McDonnell or his belongings. By Thursday, November 9, a flyer with Ross’ photo, seeking information about the whereabouts of Ross and his belongings began to circulate on social media, and a deep search of the area began, as McDonnell’s parents in Ireland made plans to come help find their son. Search dogs followed McDonnell’s scent from his locked bike to the water.

As news spread of a decapitated body washing up on a beach near Fort Tilden, many began to speculate what happened, with several people suspecting foul play in the case of the unidentified body, as in prior instances of murder, heads and hands have been removed from bodies to prevent them from being identified.

Photos obtained by The Rockaway Times gave some indication as to the identity of the body. The photos showed the body of a white male, wearing a red Adidas bathing suit. Tagged photos on McDonnell’s Instagram page show him wearing a red bathing suit just a few weeks prior, swimming with friends in a “freezing river” in Wicklow, Ireland in late September. McDonnell also frequently wore Adidas-brand clothing.

Police sources believe it to be the body of McDonnell. After allegedly being in the water for nearly two weeks, the body already showed signs of decomposition with an exposed rib cage. As more details emerged, police sources told NBC News, “No foul play is suspected in the case and there is no indication of suicide.” They believe McDonnell went for a swim and drowned after getting caught in a current. As sources told the New York Daily News, they believe McDonnell’s body may have detached after being in the water for so long and possibly getting caught up in rocks. Fort Tilden has several rock jetties in the water.

Police are still awaiting results of DNA testing to officially confirm the identity of the body.

As Grillo said, “The tragedy not only leaves a gaping hole in the hearts of his family as well as many friends and loved ones. It deprives the world of one of the best photographers and filmmakers of his generation.”


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