The headless torso and arms that washed up on a Queens beach last week most likely belonged to famed Irish filmmaker and photographer Ross McDonnell, who police now say drowned while taking a “wild swim” in the ocean.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kinney said McDonnell’s friends identified a distinctive birthmark and red Adidas swim trunks found on the remains as matching those of the 44-year-old Emmy winner, who was last seen leaving his home. In Brooklyn for more than two weeks. Tuesday.
Police are still waiting for a medical examiner to test McDonnell’s DNA, but believe the Irishman – who loved “wild swimming” in the ocean or other natural bodies of water – went for a late night swim at around 10.30pm at one o’clock. One of his favorite spots is near Fort Tilden Beach on Nov. 4, Kenney said.
Despite his prowess in the water, McDonnell disappeared beneath the waves that night.
“He was known for doing this, and it appears he drowned,” Kenny told reporters.
The dismembered body was found by a fisherman in front of the Silver Gull Beach Club, near Breezy Point on the Rockaway Peninsula, on Friday.
“The body was discovered with the head and arms missing, which may be an indication that the waves there are very rough,” Kenny said.
“The way it was described to me was like cranking a washing machine,” the president continued. “The body moving back and forth and hitting the rocks could have removed the limbs and head.”
The authorities do not suspect a crime.
Kenney said McDonnell’s bicycle was found locked on Fort Tilden Beach on Nov. 7, indicating he intended to return for it.
“According to his friends, he did that sometimes,” Kenny said. “He would go away, sometimes for days, just to go out and do whatever he wanted.”
His disappearance shocked close friends like Gene Galerano He told the Irish Times Last week no one knew much about what happened.
“He was last seen last Saturday night; The alarm was raised on Sunday. “We don’t know much more than that,” Galerano said. “It’s been a very emotional heavy week.”
At around noon on November 17, officers received a phone call about a human torso, with its legs still attached, lying in the sand at the popular beach in southern Queens, police said.
The horrific condition of the body meant that authorities were unable to immediately determine how the person died, or even his age and gender.
But clues led police to the identity of the body.
Kenney said a police dog from the US Park Police tracked the scent to the edge of a cliff, where officers found some of McDonnell’s clothes.
Friends who gathered at the site after authorities learned the body had been recovered brought photos — one showed McDonnell wearing the same bathing suit found on the torso, while another showed a birthmark of his own that matched those on the remains, according to the chief.
Kenny added that police are still trying to pull video from the marine park that may show McDonnell heading into the waves.
McDonnell, a Dublin native who frequently travels abroad, won an Emmy in 2021 for his cinematography work on the Showtime series “The Trade.”
His first feature film, “Colony,” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the IDFA First Film Award as well as an Irish Film and Television Award nomination, according to an online biography.
McDonnell was shortlisted for the world’s preeminent photography prize, the Prix Pictet, in 2019, under the theme ‘Hope’.
He was nominated for another Emmy in 2018 for directing the documentary “Elian,” produced by CNN Films, BBC and Jigsaw Productions.
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