FRANKLIN, Mass. — The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has officially confirmed the remains found Saturday afternoon are those of 20-year-old Michael Doherty. Officials spent a week looking for the Duke University student after he never returned from a party.
Doherty was reported missing by his parents Sunday afternoon when they found that he hadn’t returned home from a house party the night before. Doherty left the party on Phyllis Lane early Sunday morning, which was at the height of a Nor’easter that was pelting the area with heavy rain and strong wind.
A final report has not been issued, but according to the Norfolk District Attorney, there were no signs of foul play. The cause and manner of death has yet to be determined.
“Our first thought is with Michael’s family and friends,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “To them we extend our sincere condolences. I would be remiss if I did not thank the Franklin Police, regional and state law enforcement and so many in the community for their days and days of sustained searching in difficult terrain. The result was not what we had hoped.”
Doherty's friends told investigators that they believed he was going to cut through the woods to head home. It’s something his friends said he has done before.
The path he took, it’s like a discombobulated path,” friend Shawn Hanley told Boston 25 News on Tuesday. “It’s not a real path. But him and his brother, they said they took it one time and I guess he thought he could do it again.”
Nancy Doherty spoke on Wednesday, and described her son as smart, a lover of hockey and "the love of our life."
"We just want our son to come home," she had said.
Watch the Doherty's news conference from Wednesday here
Michael has an older and younger brother; the young is graduating from Franklin High School this year and the other attends Northeastern University.
Nancy said that Michael loved playing hockey, was in a fraternity at Duke University and had a large group of friends, many of whom had traveled to Franklin to be with the family. He had planned to work at Roche Brothers over the summer and they were also going to go on a family vacation.
More than 45 police departments, bloodhounds, police K-9's, a Massachusetts State Police helicopter and dive teams searched nonstop from dawn until dusk, hoping to find Doherty alive and safe.
There were several clues along the way, including finding his sneakers and shirt near the marsh where Doherty walked home. They also were able to learn his cell phone's final ping, which was in the area of the marsh.
Along with many people volunteering to search, others also donated food and water to the search crews, which was greatly appreciated during the warm weather of the week.
The family said on Wednesday how thankful they were for everyone's support.
"Our family, our friends, Michael's friends, people we've never met - it's been incredible," said Dan Doherty, Michael's father.
Cox Media Group