June 4, 2007

06/02/07: John Pike, 23, Fairhaven, MA

John Pike, 23, drummer for up-and-coming Syracuse indie rock band Ra Ra Riot disappeared near Fairhaven, Massachusetts on Saturday, June 2, 2007 after attending a late night afterparty with a fellow band member.

According to Fairhaven Police Department Chief Gary F. Souza, "There were a number of people who saw him leave the party," Souza said. "In my understanding, they didn't believe he was leaving for a great amount of time, that he was just stepping outside."

His body was discovered in Buzzard's Bay, less than a mile from where he was last seen, the following day.


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Pike played a gig at The Living Room, a Providence, RI night club on Friday 6/1, then attended a late night afterparty at 19 Nakata Avenue in Fairhaven, MA (in an area called Sconticut Neck) with a fellow band member who lives in Fairhaven.

Pike was last seen at the party around 3 A.M. (June 2). "He just disappeared from the party after the show," a band spokesperson confirmed to SPIN.com.

Mr. Pike's girlfriend received a text message from him, telling her he loved her, Police Chief Gary F. Souza said. "There was nothing indicative that something was amiss at that point," he said.

Chief Souza said Sunday afternoon, that he was troubled that Mr. Pike had not used either his credit cards or his bank card and that he was "totally unfamiliar" with the area and "didn't really know where to go." Pike was a native of Hamilton, MA.

The tide was low when Pike disappeared.

Souza declined to say whether Pike consumed alcohol the night he went missing. But he said there were people consuming alcohol at the party.

No weapons were recovered on the beach or in the water, Souza said.

Search and RecoveryWhen Pike didn't turn up Saturday, a search party dispersed on foot. Pike's Blackberry cell phone was found by a Nelson Avenue resident about 3 p.m. Saturday in shallow water on the west side of Wilbur's Point. It was low tide when the phone was found.

On Sunday 6/3/07, Pike's body was spotted by a search boat off Wilbur's Point in Buzzard's Bay in seven feet of coastal water. The location was less than a mile from the party where he was last seen. It was 150 to 200 yards from where Mr. Pike's cellphone was found Saturday afternoon, according to Fire Chief Tim Francis. A police dive team recovered the body about 4:10 p.m.

The chief said the clothing on the body matched what Mr. Pike was wearing when he left the house party.

Authorities searched from 4 to 8 p.m. on Saturday and from 7 a.m. until the body was found Sunday. On Sunday, authorities conducted searches on the water and over land. Chief Souza said eight boats and 18 divers were involved in the marine search. Divers from the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, a consortium of police departments from 22 cities and towns, participated. Search dogs from the Dartmouth and the Westport police departments, and the Bristol County Sheriff's Office searched wooded areas, fields and marshes. Also, several Rhode Island departments, who were training at the House of Correction in Dartmouth, joined the search as part of their training. The total law enforcement complement involved in Sunday's search was about 50 officers and deputies, Chief Souza said.

Although there has been no determination of foul play, Chief Francis said police are treating it like a crime scene. He explained this is protocol when there is "an unwitnessed death." He said authorities took video and photos at the scene and samples from the water around the body and the soil under it. He said the District Attorney's Office and the medical examiner's office were contacted and that an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

Authorities believe the cause of death to be drowning, but will not confirm until an autopsy has been performed.

"No foul play is suspected," the band's spokesperson said."

About John PikeColleen Stone of Centerville, the victim's aunt, said her nephew is a 2006 magna cum laude graduate of Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications. "He's the pride and joy of our family," she said.

She described her nephew as a "cautious" young man, who did not like the water.

Chief Souza also said, "information from the family, which appears to be pretty solid is that he was not at all fond of the water and not a particularly strong swimmer," Souza said.

Stone said he was supposed to attend a graduation party at her home at 5 p.m. on Saturday and was excited and looking forward to attending. She said the family became worried sometime later Saturday when he did not attend and did not call.

"He would have called us," she said.

According to The Standard Times, the Syracuse-based Ra Ra Riot “is a new wave indie band mixing rock and roll with stringed instruments.” In addition to touring the United States, they had recently toured London, England. They released an EP, “Ra Ra Riot,” this past March.

Facts of Interest in This Case
Name/age: John Pike, 23 (from Hamilton, MA)
Physical Description: unknown, last seen wearing a yellow shirt and Levi's jeans
Last Seen: 06/02/07, 3 am, 19 Nakata Ave, Fairhaven, MA
Recovered: 06/03/07, off Wilbur's Point in Buzzard's Bay
Cause of death ruling: pending final determination (possible drowning)
Manner of death ruling: pending final determination

Sources
South Coast Today
The Daily Orange
Ra Ra Riot

2 comments:

Hunter said...

Looks like I need to purchase a firearm to protect myself. These are some scary stories. Unfortunately, over several years, across the entire country, these 'disappearances' have probably occurred thousands of times. I know of a classmate that turned up dead in a Philadelphia River. Many of these, on this site, are all spectacularly unsolved accidental drownings of young adults, all male. Very scary and I would say none of them were 'accidental'. God Bless their families and their loved ones.

Lisa said...

Hunter,

You're right, unfortunately these are not isolated events. They happen to young men all over this country and are proof that alcohol and water don't mix! But there are some cases that also have very odd coincidences that we hope to explore. It's hard to say whether any are related or not, but it is something worth discussing. Hopefully people will start thinking about the culture of alcohol and how it plays a role in accidents, suicides and homicides. And maybe this will help young people stay a little safer.