November 1, 2012

10/02/12: Jonathan Dailey, 23, Boston, MA

Jonathan Dailey
Source: Facebook
Jonathan Dailey, 23, a North Carolina native who was taking a semester off from graduate-level course work at Boston Architectural College, was last seen by his longtime friend and roommate, Miles Smith, on Oct. 2, 2012.

According to the Boston Globe, Smith last saw Jonathan the evening of Oct. 2 in their apartment on Gardner Street in Boston’s Allston neighborhood after Jonathan came home from work. The pair had some pizza, watched an episode of the “The Office,” and chatted about how their day went. Then Smith went to bed at about 9 p.m. It was the last time Jonathan was reportedly seen.

As days passed, Jonathan’s cell phone was not answering calls. His friends and family grew concerned at not having contact with him. Jonathan was reported missing on Friday, Oct. 5 after he failed to show up to the American Apparel store on Brattle Street in Cambridge where he worked as a sales associate. While Smith said it was not unusual for his friend to step out of their apartment, it was totally out of character for Jonathan to disappear. He also left behind a computer, all his camping equipment, and a number of other items at the apartment.

Jonathan’s parents, Bruce and Donna Dailey, arrived in Boston over the weekend. They worked with Jonathan’s friends to search the places Jonathan frequented, distribute fliers across the city and ask for tips about their son's whereabouts. They worked with missing-person organizations like the Charlotte-based Kristen Foundation and used social media to spread the word about his disappearance. While the search effort mounted, his family prayed for his return and tried to hold onto some hope that he maybe just needed some peace and solitude. Dailey's sister, Robyn, called the experience "emotionally gut-wrenching."

At 7:25 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 9, a week after Jonathan disappeared, a Boston University rowing coach spotted a body in the Charles River near the Boston University Bridge. The location was about a mile from Dailey’s apartment. The body was identified through dental records as Jonathan Dailey.

According to reports, the body was found at the bottom of the river, bound with chains at the ankles and tied to a cinder block. It appeared to have been in the water for several days. Jake Wark, a spokesperson for the Suffolk District Attorney’s office said in a statement, “We will not be discussing evidence recovered at or near the scene of this morning’s recovery effort.” He added that a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the facts and circumstances of Dailey’s death is underway by the State Police.

Investigators are still trying to determine whether Dailey was a victim of foul play or suicide. The medical examiner has not yet determined the cause or manner of death. On Oct. 13, Wark told People magazine, “They are pursuing it as a death investigation. The medical examiner has asked for additional specialized testing, toxicology and so forth.

Police said they are looking at all possibilities behind the young man’s death, from suicide to foul play.

Smith said he could not think of anyone who might want to harm Dailey. “He’s very charismatic, a great friend to all he met.”

Jonathan had no history of drugs, alcohol, or mental illness and he did have a girlfriend.

Dailey’s body was the second body found in the Charles River in two days. On Oct. 1, the body of a 62-year-old man was found at about 8:15 a.m. near the Boston University boathouse. Authorities have said they do not consider his death to be suspicious, nor do they believe there to be linked to Dailey’s death.

About Jonathan Dailey

Jonathan Dailey was born and raised in Charlotte, N.C. and attended Northwest School of the Arts. He played violin and piano, performing in local children's orchestras.

He then went to Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., where he studied architectural technology and design, alongside friend Miles Smith. Jonathan’s family said he loved architecture and never wavered from that path as a career. The friends both earned their bachelor’s degrees. After graduation, they moved to Massachusetts to attend a graduate program at Boston Architectural College and were roommates. Jonathan’s family says he loved being in Boston.

The friends were in their second year of graduate school at Boston Architectural College and were both taking a semester off. According to his family, Jonathan was not enrolled because of financial reasons.

The friends were close and often bonded by indulging in many adventures. As recently as several weeks ago, they traveled to Maine where they visited a gorge, camped, swam, and cliff-dived. “He’s an Eagle Scout, and we both love adventure, but we always prepare,” said Smith.

Smith described his friend as very creative and intelligent, with an eccentric side.

Jonathan Dailey leaves behind two siblings, brother Kevin and sister Robyn. "We are all in agony, disbelief and shock right now, "Robyn wrote on a Facebook page created in Jonathan’s honor. "Not only from the helplessness of having Jon be missing and the overwhelming grief of knowing he has died, but also because of the horror of not knowing what happened,” she said.

A Web page has been created in Jonathan's honor. A memorial service and celebration to honor Jonathan was held November 4th at Morningstar Fellowship Church in Fort Mill, SC.


Ballou, Brian (2012, October 9). Body in Charles River identified as missing graduate student Jonathan Dailey. Boston Globe. Retrieved November 1, 2012 from

Cavaliere, Victoria (2012, October 13). Death of Boston student found in river probed. NY Daily News. Retrieved November 1, 2012 from

Crimesider staff. (2012, October 8). Jonathan Dailey Missing: "Time is of the essence" in search for Boston grad student, sister says. CBS News. Retrieved November 1, 2012 from

Myers, Victoria (2012, October 11). Body found in Charles River identified as grad student Jonathan Dailey. Boston Examiner. Retrieved November 1, 2012 from

Staff article. (2012, October 10). Obituary. Charlotte Observer. Retrieved November 1, 2012 from


Anonymous said...

Can't help but notice by now that the more suspicious the off-season water fatality is, the more likely it will vanish from law enforcement's radar...

As with the case of missing/drowned Boston student Franco Garcia, and more recently Harsha Maddula at NWU, (and too many other young men as well) the investigation into Jon Dailey's disappearance and drowning death also grows cold, for some inexplicable reason.

Waiting, waiting, waiting on those autopsy and toxicology findings...which often enough are never released. (Have you any word?)


Lisa said...

Hi E.R.,

That's a great point. It is frustrating to not get word on what has happened. Oftentimes, the police don't release information if the investigation is on going. I also believe that many states, like here in MN, do not allow the release of the autopsy results to the media without the consent of the family. So it seems to be really hit or miss as to when we see them.

In the tag cloud, I have just added "results pending" so that I can check for case updates. I'm going through and trying to tag these posts now. If any readers out there happen to see a "results pending" case that has been updated, please do let me know. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hey again, Lisa.

Nope, no word as yet on the Dailey case, and to tell you the truth it looks like LE just wants it to fade away. (Which it is.)

Anyway, I wanted to ping you about adding the recent and still unsolved drowning death of Walton Matthew Ward to your site.

The 23-year-old went missing from Indianapolis under highly suspicious circumstances mid-October 2012 and was found in the White River almost two weeks later. His last attempted cell phone communication was a 911 call that was terminated after one second...

Of course police see "no signs of foul play" in anything thus far.

I'll be interviewing the victim's mother on my weblog this week and his family is also taking photos of the area today which should additionally provide some insight, I am hoping.

Also missing/drowned from that same district--in the same manner--ihis November 2012 is Joshua Swalls, 22. I've contacted his folks, too, and we're also arranging for a weblog interview.

Ping me back, if you like, @ (You'll also find some info there about the above two cases I'm referencing.)


knw said...

Any word on what happened? The story just disappeared and its very disturbing.

Lisa said...

@knw - I have not heard any news as of yet, but I'll be sure to post an update if that changes.

Anonymous said...

Living in Boston but growing up in Charlotte, this story truly touched me. Every week or so I search for updates on this case to no avail. Do you know of any headway that's been made??

Lisa said...

@the beauty belle,

I have not found anything new that has been reported. With that said, it seems that sometimes, depending on the investigation, the laws of the state and/or the wishes of the family, information is not always released to the media. I am hoping that we'll hear an update; Jon's story has touched me as well.

Anonymous said...

A loan shark or something....ive heard theyre crazy and not to borrow money....wouldnt freezing water kill you anyway? And he wouldnt tell his friend hes seriously suicidal?

name name name name? said...

This case really saddens me. I did some research on Facebook (cautious not to upset family or over extend questions) and the best information I could gather is that autopsy never determined case of death, and it was unclear if it was formally declared an accident or suicide (I have heard mixed confirmations that it was ruled suicide, never once murder). I suspect that the case was administratively mishandled and ultimately buried. The bizarre details on the cinderblock+chains suggests to me that whoever was responsible was almost taunting police; the old 'cement shoes' thing is like an old mob joke (relevant to Boston area) Oddly it turns out this may be one of the only confirmed cases of cinderblock drowning. Gah.

I lived in the area at the time (now in Minneapolis) and distinctly remember the baffling idea that a drowning with chains+cinderblock could be ever considered a suicide, and the very close proximity & similarity to Franco Garcia's case which happened earlier that year a couple miles away. Those details have always stuck with me and ultimately inspired me to find this site. I can't say I have any more answers, just more questions. Anyway thank you Lisa for maintaining this website... I wish I had more to contribute.


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