Jonathan Dailey

    - Noell Dorsey
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  • "Condolences! Very very sad. I didn't know Jon but when I..."
    - Kenn Bourque
  • "Bruce and Donna and family, As we continue to pray for..."
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    - A.L.

A Charlotte family's search for their 23-year-old son in Boston ended Tuesday when the graduate student's body was found in the Charles River.

Jonathan Dailey was last seen a week earlier, on Oct. 2, at the apartment he shared with a friend in Boston's Allston neighborhood, about a mile from where his body was found, reportedly bound with chains and weighed down by a cinder block.

When family and friends couldn't reach him by phone – and he didn't show up at work on Friday – his parents traveled to Boston to search for him. They scoured the places he frequented and distributed fliers across the city.

Around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday, a rowing coach spotted a body in the Charles River near the Boston University Bridge. Hours later, the local District Attorney's Office confirmed that it was Dailey.

Authorities released few details about the circumstances of his death, and it's unclear whether they suspect foul play.

"The facts and circumstances surrounding Mr. Dailey's death remain under investigation by State Police detectives assigned to the Suffolk DA's office," Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley's office said in a statement. "We rule out no possibility and we promise Mr. Dailey's family a thorough, comprehensive search for the truth."

The Boston Globe reported that the body was found with chains and a cinder block, but the district attorney's office said it would not discuss evidence found at the scene.

After the announcement, Dailey's sister confirmed the news Tuesday evening to friends on a Facebook page where the family had been posting updates about the search.

"We just found out that my dear brother Jonathan is with Jesus," Robyn Hoffman wrote. "We are in shock. Please lift us up, we are devastated."

Passion for architecture

Relatives said Dailey was born and raised in Charlotte and attended Northwest School of the Arts. He played violin and piano, performing in local children's orchestras.

He then went to Appalachian State University, where he studied architectural technology and design. His family said he loved architecture and never wavered from that path as a career.

After graduation, he and a friend decided to move to Massachusetts to attend a graduate program at Boston Architectural College. They moved to the city last August and were roommates.

Dailey wasn't enrolled at the college this semester because of financial reasons, his family said. But Dailey had said he loved being in Boston.

Dailey's roommate, Miles Smith, said he and Dailey ate pizza last Tuesday and watched TV. Smith went to bed about 9 p.m. That was the last time Dailey was reported seen alive.

Desperately searching

As days passed with no contact with Dailey, friends and family grew concerned. The search for him picked up in intensity after Dailey failed to show for work Friday.

Dailey left his computer and a number of other items at the apartment, the family said. His cellphone was not answering calls.

His parents, Bruce and Donna Dailey, went to Boston over the weekend, working with friends to plaster fliers across the city that asked for tips about their son's whereabouts. They worked with missing-person organizations, including the Charlotte-based Kristen Foundation, and used social media to spread the word about his disappearance.

Robyn Hoffman has said the family is thankful to the Boston and Charlotte communities "for rallying around our family and helping with the search effort."

Dailey's parents and other searchers also checked a nature preserve in southeast Boston on Sunday but found no clues. They said Dailey, an Eagle Scout who enjoyed camping, left all his camping equipment at the apartment.

Two bodies in two days

On Monday, a body was found in Charles River, sparking questions whether it might be Dailey. But authorities soon said the body was that of an elderly man.

The family said a $5,000 reward was being offered for information "leading to the safe return of Jonathan."

On Tuesday, after the discovery of a second body in the river, detectives went to Dailey's apartment to speak with family members and to get his dental records, according to reports.

Dailey's sister called the experience "emotionally gut-wrenching."

Hours later, their fears were confirmed.

Andy McMillan, a family friend who had known Dailey for 15 years, told the Observer he was shocked and saddened.

"Jonathan was a really sweet guy and a special guy," he said.

The Boston Globe and WBZ contributed.
Published in Charlotte Observer from Oct. 10 to Nov. 8, 2012
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