Body found in Westerly identified as missing Pawcatuck man

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Westerly — A body discovered Wednesday near St. Sebastian Cemetery has been identified as Daniel "Danny" Holly, the 52-year-old Pawcatuck resident who had been missing since he left Westerly Hospital early June 1.

Holly was known as someone whose regimented routine included daily walks around Westerly, making him a friendly face around town for many.

Westerly police Chief Shawn Lacey said Holly was positively identified by a tattoo, and a spokesperson for the Rhode Island Department of Health confirmed the Medical Examiner's Office is doing an examination on Holly. He said Wednesday afternoon the cause of death still is pending.

Stonington police Capt. Todd Olson said a man walking his dog spotted the body in a waterlogged ravine Wednesday afternoon and called Westerly police.

Lacey said the medical examiner's office conducted an autopsy Thursday morning, and "there's no indication at this point of any foul play, although it could change based on their findings."

The chief said police have not been able to determine when Holly died after he was last seen on June 1, when he left Westerly Hospital with a friend.

Lacey said Holly was taken to the hospital on the afternoon of May 31 with "a high level of intoxication" and was discharged at some point. That night, police got a report of Holly walking into a house on Westminster Street thinking it was his, and they took him back to the hospital.

Holly left the hospital about 1 a.m. on June 1 with John Briggs, a friend who also was there for intoxication, Lacey said. Police saw from camera footage that the two walked down Wells Street together.

The chief said police questioned Briggs and "it doesn't appear at this point he has any involvement."

While the Westerly Police Department is investigating because Holly's body was found in Westerly, the Stonington Police Department initially was investigating the mission persons case, since Holly lived in Pawcatuck.

Olson said that Holly keeps a routine and specific habits, and so his brother became concerned and tried looking for him. The brother notified police that Holly was missing, but police had no luck speaking with people who knew him.

Police issued a Silver Alert on June 7, saying Holly was last seen wearing a long-sleeve blue plaid shirt, jeans, glasses and a black baseball hat.

Lacey said Holly wasn't working, having had brain damage from a motorcycle accident decades ago. As police, neighbors and people on social media noted, Holly was known for spending his time walking downtown.

He would "often be downtown in front of the post office; he'd be on the bridge between Stonington and Westerly," Lacey said. People on Facebook remembered him as a kind, gentle and friendly person.

"He walks 10 or 11 miles and it's all within a mile of downtown," his brother, Patrick Holly, told NBC 10, before Daniel Holly's body was found. "Sometimes, he would do odd jobs for people around town or help people with their groceries because he's always walking."

Patrick Holly said his brother was known for his Donald Duck impersonations and was good with kids.

Lacey said that prior to the discovery by the man walking his dog, Stonington and Westerly police boats spent four hours checking the Pawcatuck River. Lacey said detectives also had walked the route from Westerly Hospital to downtown, to see if they could come up with any evidence.

He said Stonington police also searched the area behind C.C. O'Brien's Sports Café, where some of Holly's acquaintances would hang out.

Lacey said the investigation "is still very active," and police are trying to determine a timeline, date of death and cause of death.

e.moser@theday.com

l.boyle@theday.com

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