Bihlmaier and his friends spoke several times by phone in an attempt to meet back up with each other. Bihlmaier, who was still near the bar, described the area, but friends were not able to find him. They last heard from him around 12:15 p.m.
When Bihlmaier still hadn’t returned to the hotel by 9 a.m. the next morning, friends reported him missing.
Michael Sauschuck, Portland’s police chief, told The Boston Globe that Bihlmaier had been asked to leave the pub after a customer reported that he was acting inappropriately. The paper reports, "Scott St. Ours, the security manager at the Portland pub, offered [several times] to procure Bihlmaier a taxi from a nearby cab stand, but Bihlmaier declined because he was staying at the Hilton Garden Inn across the street."
Out of respect for Bihlmaier's family, Ri Ra officials have declined to describe in detail what actions caused Bihlmaier to be asked to leave.
Bihlmaier, described as likable and gregarious, left the bar without incident at 11:30 p.m. According to the Bangor Daily News, St. Ours witnessed him turning west on Commercial Street at that time. He noted that Bihlmaier wasn't staggering; he was walking straight, speaking clearly and his eyes were not glassy. In fact, on a scale of 1 to 10, he judged his intoxication level to be a 2.
Bihlmaier's friends were initially unaware that he had left the bar. They later spoke to him several times by phone in an attempt to find each other. In the final call around 12:15 a.m., Bihlmaier said he was in front of a large, official-looking building that he didn't recognize. Police now believe that the building may have been the US Custom House on Commercial Street, a short distance from the bar. Yet, his friends were still unable to find him.
Not long after that call, at 12:54 a.m., Bihlmaier's mobile phone stopped sending signals.
The Search for Nathan Bihlmaier
When Bihlmaier hadn’t returned to the hotel by 9 a.m. the next morning, friends reported him missing. Investigators learned that his car and belongings were untouched, and banking and cell phone records indicated no activity.
While friends and family searched for Bihlmaier and distributed fliers, investigators focused their search on the waters of Portland Harbor, where they found one of Bihlmaier's tan flip flops.
|Photo Credit: John Patriquin, Press Herald|
"Portland police dive teams Monday, May 21, 2012
as they search the waters near the State Pier for Nathan Bihlmaier."
On Tuesday, May 22, just before noon, police divers recovered Bihlmaier's body from the floor of Casco Bay in Portland Harbor, fairly close to the shore. Authorities identified his body by his clothing – a black windbreaker, blue pants, a gray T-shirt and a blue webbed belt – which witnesses and security cameras confirmed he was wearing when he went missing.
The area where the body was found was a short distance from the Ri Ra Irish Pub where Bihlmaier was last seen, but because of the tides, it may be impossible to tell where he entered the water.
Michael Sauschuck, Portland’s police chief, told The Boston Globe that there were no signs of an altercation or foul play. The cause of death has since been determined as accidental drowning.
It remains unclear whether the phone stopped transmitting because its battery was drained or because it was underwater.
According to The Boston Herald, Nathan Bihlmaier's wife, Nancy, who is pregnant with the couple's first child, "had come to Portland to assist police efforts to find him, including handing out fliers around the city."
|Nathan and Nancy Ho Bihlmaier|
The missing man's parents, Cheryl and Steven Bihlmaier, also flew in from Kansas on Sunday.
Harvard Business School spokesman Brian Kenny told David Hench of the Press Herald that the family was “very upset, stressed. I think we were all holding out hope he was alive.”
About Nathan Bihlmaier
Dennis Hoey of the Portland Press Herald reports, "Bihlmaier grew up in Osborne, a small farming community of about 1,400 people in north central Kansas." He worked at the community pool as a lifeguard, became an Eagle Scout, and excelled as a student at Osborne High School. According to the paper, "He graduated from Osborne High School in 1999. After graduating, he enrolled at Kansas University. He just completed a two-year program at Harvard Business School, where he was expected to graduate with a masters degree in business administration."
Bihlmaier was very passionate about health care, and had started work as as director of Accountable Care Solutions at Optum, a hospital and health care agency in the Greater Boston area. He had worked there for about two months. Boston is about two hours from Portland.
Kenny said Bihlmaier "was thrilled about the prospects of being a new father" and started a blog in which he wrote about what it meant to be a father for the first time. (Portland Press Herald, 5/22/12). He had planned to break the news about his wife’s pregnancy when his parents flew in for his graduation.
The paper also reports that the tight-knit community within the Harvard Business School is also reeling from the tragedy. "Bihlmaier is a popular student and some 18 to 20 fellow students drove to Portland to offer support to his wife and parents," reports the paper.
“This is a very sad day for all of us at Harvard Business School,” the school said in a statement. “There is a tremendous sense of community here, of camaraderie among students, faculty, and staff. We are all in a state of shock and grief, and our hearts and prayers go out to Nate’s family at this terrible time.”
Nathan Bihlmaier was honored at the graduation commencement ceremony on May 24.
Name/age: Nathan Bihlmaier, 31
Hometown: Osborne, Kan.
Residence: Cambridge, Mass.
College: University of Kansas graduate, and Harvard School of Business
Last Seen: Ri Ra Irish Pub and Restaurant, 72 Commercial Street, Portland, Me.
Last Wearing: a black windbreaker, blue pants, a gray T-shirt, a blue webbed belt, tan flip flops
Recovered: 05/22/12 Portland Harbor, Portland, Me.
Byrne, John A. (n.d.). The Tragic death of a Harvard MBA. Poets and Quants Web site. Retrieved November 9, 2012 from http://poetsandquants.com/2012/05/23/the-tragic-death-of-a-harvard-mba/
Hench, David. (2012, May 23). Missing student's body headed to Augusta for autopsy. Portland Press Herald. Retrieved May 29, 2012 from http://www.pressherald.com/news/police-press-search-for-student_2012-05-22.html?pageType=mobile&id=1
Hoey, Dennis. (2012, May 22). Small town in Kansas worries after native son disappears. Portland Press Herald. Retrieved May 29, 2012 from http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?&articleid=1061133397&format=&page=2&listingType=Loc#articleFull
Koenig, Seth. (2012, May 25). Harvard student asked to leave bar for ‘bad behavior,’ not drunkenness. Bangor Daily News. Retrieved May 29, 2012 from http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/25/news/portland/harvard-student-asked-to-leave-bar-for-bad-behavior-not-drunkenness/
McShane, Larry. (2012, May 22). Body of Nathan Bihlmaier, missing Harvard Business School student, discovered. New York Daily News. Retrieved May 29, 2012 from:
Schworm, Peter. (2012, May 22) Body of missing Cambridge man found in water. Boston Globe. Retrieved May 29, 2012 from http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2012/05/22/body-missing-cambridge-man-found-water/0iezRvtiAuAYA36gJ6fUMK/story.html?p1=News_links