By John R. Ellement, Globe Staff, and Michaela Stanelun, Globe Correspondent
A body found early this morning in the Charles River belongs to a 24-year-old man who went missing last week after leaving a Boston Bruins game at the TD Garden, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F.Conley said today.
The body of William Hurley was spotted at 2 a.m. and recovered from the river near the Nashua Street Jail, not far from the sports arena. His death is under investigation by State Police assigned to the district attorney's office because his body was discovered in a state waterway.
Conley told reporters today that the circumstances of Hurley's death are being probed, but he said there was no immediate sign the 24-year-old died a violent death. He said the Office of Chief Medical Examiner is expected to conduct an autopsy today.
"There was no obvious signs of trauma to Mr. Hurley's body," Conley said. "We are not prepared to say at this moment exactly what caused his death, whether foul play was involved.''
Conley, however, downplayed robbery as a possible motive, saying that Hurley's keys, cash and wallet were still on him when his body was found in the Charles River. "It does not look like a robbery or anything like that,'' he said.
Conley said he expects to get preliminary autopsy results later today. Conley said one issue he expects can be resolved by the medical examiner's office is what Hurley's level of intoxication was -- if he was drunk at all.
"The autopsy will tell us what, if any, the amount of alcohol Mr. Hurley had in his body, or perhaps any other substances,'' Conley said. The prosecutor said that Hurley appeared to be walking across the street from the Nashua Street Jail in an "unfenced area'' of a park along the banks of the Charles. Additional toxicological tests will also be conducted that may take several weeks.
Hurley was last seen on Thursday night leaving the Bruins game. He was on a cellphone talking to his girlfriend, Claire Mahoney, when the connection suddenly ended. Mahoney had driven into the city from Quincy to pick up Hurley, who had left the game early because he was feeling ill.
No physical traces of the Navy veteran had surfaced until his body was recovered this morning. Police divers had unsuccessfully searched the Charles River.
"We are just very, very sad that it came to this kind of ending," said a woman who answered Mahoney's cellphone today and identified herself as her sister, Katie. "Obviously it’s a very, very difficult time for both families."
Asked what the family believed happened to Hurley, the woman said, "We are not 100 percent certain." The family was deeply grateful to the media and law enforcement who helped search for Hurley, said the woman, who declined to comment further. No one answered Mahoney's door this morning in Quincy.
Hurley and Mahoney met in Boston on Saint Patrick’s Day 2007 while he was on shore leave. The couple had agreed to be married, but they delayed the decision on a date, Mahoney said in a recent interview with the Globe, until they could put aside some money.
Mahoney had driven from their Quincy home to pick him up, spoke to him by cellphone within blocks of his last known location, and never found him after their phone connection was disrupted. She also posted fliers in the city, keeping busy in an effort to stay positive and productive.
“I’m just trying to be really helpful and stay with the people who love him and love me,’’ said Mahoney in the interview with the Globe.
Brendan Venti, 24, a co-worker at the Weston Golf Club who accompanied Hurley to his first Bruins game, described him as quiet with a dry sense of humor.
Last Thursday night, Venti said, Hurley took the train from Quincy to Venti’s house in Brighton, where Venti, Hurley, and another man took public transportation to the hockey game.
“He just had mentioned that he was tired. I myself try and take a nap every day after work, and neither one of us were able to do that,’’ Venti said. “We were kind of crunched for time.’’
On the way to North Station, the men chatted about their girlfriends. Venti said Hurley told them he had bought Mahoney an engagement ring for Christmas last year, but “that the timing wasn’t right.’’
Hurley had been stationed in Florida with the Navy before he moved to Boston in December to live with Mahoney.
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