DeLany, a junior majoring in political science at Rochester Institute of Technology, lived in a suburban off-campus apartment in Chili, N.Y. with other RIT students.
He was officially reported missing by his roommates on Mar. 15 after he failed to return.
George DeLany's remains were found in deep brush in rural Wayland, NY, approximately one hour from his apartment. It is believed that he suffered hypothermia after his car got stuck in the snow and he walked outside for quite some time. There was no indication of foul play, but questions linger as to why George traveled to Wayland that day.
Tracking George DeLany
After George DeLany was reported missing, an investigation revealed that he had exited off the interstate in Dansville and withdrew $20 from a truck stop ATM machine at 4:09 p.m. Police were unable to find video surveillance of the transaction.
A few hours later, between 6:30 and 7 p.m., DeLany was seen with his car stuck in the snow on a snowmobile path off of Ward Road in the town of Wayland, about 40 miles south of Rochester.
A person living nearby offered DeLany help, but he replied that he already had someone on the way. DeLany was then seen walking down County Route 50, carrying an orange toolbox containing personal papers. At the time, there wasn't anything unusual about the sighting; and DeLany was not yet missing, so the sighting wasn't reported to the police.
State police Sr. Inv. Rick Kemp, who supervised the search for DeLany, told The Evening Tribune that it was unclear where DeLany went after that. The paper reported, "He may have walked down Ward Road, turned onto state Route 21 and headed north, making his way to County Route 92. Or, as Kemp believes, DeLany circled around on County Route 50 and crossed over onto County Route 92."
While DeLany was walking, "he apparently made 10 phone calls between 7:32 and 7:37 p.m.," according to the paper. All of the calls were to to high school friend Megan Kelly who lives on Long Island. DeLany had not spoken to her since the summer of 2010." The calls went to voicemail because Kelly was on a plane at the time. The two messages that DeLany left for Kelly indicated that he was lost, and, judging from his voice, cold and disoriented, said Kemp.
According to earlier reports, DeLany described his frustrations with school and his housemates--who DeLany said he wasn't getting along with--and his plans to possibly drop out. Investigators say DeLany’s phone either died or was turned off soon after that call to Megan Kelly.
"He just wanted someone to talk to," George's father, George DeLany Sr., said.
But according to another report, DeLany may have been considering switching his major to political science and had an opportunity for an internship the following summer in Washington, so it's not entirely clear just how frustrated he was. His mother, Susan, said the family last heard from George late Saturday afternoon, and "there was no indication that anything was wrong."
She also described her son as"a good kid."
Car found abandoned
DeLany's vehicle was found the next day (Mar. 13), still stuck in the snow on the snowmobile trail. Troopers said it did not appear that the car had been involved in a crash. The stuck vehicle was towed on March 13, and it was linked to DeLany on March 15 after he was reporting missing.
State police began searching a heavily wooded, hilly area near the location of the car--an area still covered in snow. They used ATVs and rescue dogs to canvas the area near Route 92 where the last cell phone call came from. Massasauga Search and Rescue Team, Police K-9 units, and a State Police helicopter assisted the state police with the search.
The area from where DeLany last made the call is about 4 miles from where his car was found and about a mile-and-a-half from I-390, a major interstate that becomes U.S. 15 further south.
“If he walked the way I believe he walked, it would be 5.9 miles,” Kemp told the Evening Tribune. “He’d walked almost six miles in the cold to where he uses his phone last. That’s the only place we know where he made that phone call on County Route 92, six miles from the car.”
According to an earlier report, authorities said that while it is a rural area, he would have passed numerous houses as he walked.
On April 17, 2012, the remains of George DeLany were found deep in the brush by a landowner who was looking for antler sheds. The location of the discovery was two or three miles east of his car on the Wayland-Cohocton town line in a wooded area off Campbell Road and Oil Well Hollow Road. It was approximately 450 yards off a steep embankment near a logging trail. A plastic orange toolbox containing papers and personal effects was found near the body. There was no indication of foul play.
The area where DeLany was found had not been previously searched by police. According to the Evening Tribune, "Focusing on where his car was found on March 13 and the locations where his phone was last used, police had little reason to search the area near Campbell Road. He was ultimately found several miles southeast of where the phone was last used, several miles removed from major roads."
The cause of DeLany's death is still undetermined. Bob Zerby, the chief investigator for the medical examiner’s office, did not have enough information to rule on the cause of death with any medical certainty.
DeLany’s father, also named George, told the Frederick News Post that he was told his son likely died of hypothermia.
The Evening Tribune reported that DeLany’s body was found naked with his clothes nearby, and it is believed that he succumbed to paradoxical undressing due to the cold. Paradoxical undressing can happen when blood vessels in the body constrict due to cold. As the vessels widen, the victim feels warm and begins to remove clothing.
DeLany's clothes were found a little further from his body than usual in cases of paradoxical undressing, Kemp said, but added that there is also no definitive rule about where the clothes should be in proximity to the victim in such cases.
Initial reports from police the morning after DeLany’s body was found stated that his remains were recovered in a shallow indentation in the ground. According to the Tribune, "there was no evidence that DeLany made the hole."
On May 7 at 10:30 a.m., a turkey hunter recovered an iPod with a cracked screen that is believed to be DeLany’s. It was found in a field near a fenceline in the area of where calls from DeLany’s phone were made.
According to the Steuben Courier, "DeLany had a history of wandering off to be on his own, but he always told people where he was going." So investigators are unsure why DeLany made the hour-plus drive from his apartment to the rural roads of Wayland and Cohocton.
“I don’t think we’ll ever find out why he was there, why he started walking in that direction, why he didn’t ask for help,” Kemp told the Tribune. DeLany had no known ties or connections to the area where he was found, yet no evidence has been found to indicate DeLany intended to harm himself.
Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the DeLany family and his loved ones.
Anyone with information is asked to call Wayland-based state police at 1-585-398-4100.
Name/age: George DeLany, 21
Hometown: Frederick, MD
Residence: Chili, NY
Physical description: white male, 5' 10", 150 pounds, sandy-reddish hair. He was wearing a brown light-weight jacket when he was last seen.
Last seen: 03/12/11, Wayland, NY
Recovered: 03/16/11, Campbell Road and Oil Well Hollow Road, Wayland, NY
Investigating Agency: New York State Police, Wayland, 585-398-4100.