BOSTON, MA -- Atop the Boston University Bridge on Thursday, pedestrians pulled coat hoods over their heads to cut the chilly wind coming off the Charles River.
Below, an old train trestle covered by years of graffiti passes under the bridge.
It was below this bridge on Tuesday that a Boston University rowing coach spotted Jonathan Dailey’s body – reportedly bound with chains and weighed down by a cinder block – bringing a shocking end to the search for the 23-year-old, who’d been missing for a week.
Days after the discovery, it remains a mystery how and why the architecture student from Charlotte ended up in the river.
Authorities in Massachusetts have revealed little about the investigation and have released few details, including whether they suspect homicide.
Dailey’s roommate, a co-worker and family say they noticed nothing unusual about Dailey in the days leading up to the disappearance of a young man they describe as a quiet intellectual with a quick wit.
On Thursday, Dailey’s sister wrote on Facebook that the family’s grief is deepened by the lack of information about his death.
“We are all in agony, disbelief and shock right now 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,” Robyn Hoffman wrote.
“The investigators told us it will probably be a long time until they know and we will not be told anything during the process, to keep the investigation as pure as possible.
“It feels like three separate blows, and each one feels like it’s too much to bear.”
A mystery unfolds
Authorities have not said where they believe Dailey entered the river.
A mile’s walk away from the bridge, Dailey lived with his roommate, Miles Smith, in an apartment in a gray Victorian house on Gardner Street in Boston’s Allston neighborhood. The bridge has three lanes, with sidewalks on each side. Small sailboats at Boston University’s Sailing Pavilion line the shore nearby, and to the east the downtown skyline unfurls. A metal railing, about waist high, lines the bridge’s highest point.
Dailey, who had been a student at Boston Architectural College, was last seen at his apartment on the night of Oct. 2, when he ate pizza and watched TV with Smith. Smith has said he went to bed and never saw Dailey again.
He also has written on a Facebook page that Dailey left home with “literally nothing other than the clothes on his back, a debit card, and a phone (which has been off for days).”
Dailey’s parents, Bruce and Donna Dailey of Charlotte, traveled to Boston last weekend and helped launch a search for their son after they couldn’t reach him for days and he didn’t show up at work.
Reminders of that search remained Thursday, with missing-person fliers tacked to light posts in his neighborhood, which is inhabited mostly by Boston University students living in apartment buildings and large three-story homes.
The area between the bridge and Dailey’s apartment is connected by Brighton Avenue, a busy commercial street lined with restaurants, stores and auto-service shops, as well as Boston University buildings.
Students have been on alert after four students were robbed in the past two weeks, reports WTBU, Boston University’s student-run radio station.
Boston police have offered a $10,000 reward for information about the suspects.
But in a meeting with students Wednesday night, police said they do not believe the robberies are connected to Dailey’s death, according to WTBU.
For much of the past week, news crews have parked outside Dailey’s apartment on Gardner Street.
A sign posted on the door read, “Media please do not knock or ring bell.” It instructed reporters to instead call Smith.
Dailey’s name had been crossed out on his mailbox.
On Thursday afternoon, Smith spoke with the Observer outside the apartment.
He said he only had a few minutes to spare and added that he was moving out and leaving Boston.
An investigator stopped by earlier Thursday, Smith said, to ask more questions about Dailey but did not reveal any developments in the case.
Jake Wark, spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, said that a medical examiner has examined Dailey’s body but has not yet made any findings on the cause or manner of his death. More tests are taking place.
Smith said he met Dailey when they were undergraduate students at Appalachian State University.
He said Dailey was creative, had a sharp sense of humor and “always pushed people around him to do more and be more.”
Smith said he and his roommate were “creatures of habit” who lived by a routine and that he thinks he would have noticed if something was wrong with Dailey. But nothing seemed amiss in the days before he disappeared.
“No one really grasps it yet,” Smith said.
‘A shock to us all’
Dailey and Smith moved to the Boston area last year to study at the Boston College of Architecture.
“This is news that we all hoped would not come,” Associate Provost and Dean of Students Richard Griswold said in a statement after Dailey’s body was found. “Jonathan’s untimely death comes as a shock to us all.”
Griswold said Dailey was registered at the college as a first-year master’s student during the 2011-2012 school year to “pursue his passion for architecture.” His family has said he took this semester off for financial reasons. Dailey had begun picking up more shifts at the American Apparel clothing store where he worked. His boss, Anthony Ruiz, said Dailey started working at the Cambridge store, near Harvard University in February.
Dailey’s job was in inventory, receiving shipments and refilling racks, Ruiz said. He spent most of his shifts in the store’s basement, where rows of labeled plastic bins are stacked nearly to the ceiling. Ruiz said Dailey was quiet at first but had opened up to his co-workers, whom he kept entertained by dressing up mannequins in funny outfits.
“He worked hard,” Ruiz said. “He’s going to be missed here.”
Dailey was scheduled to work last Friday but didn’t arrive. Ruiz said that was unusual for Dailey, “but it happens, so nobody thought anything of it.”
But Ruiz said he suspected something was wrong.
A day or two earlier, Dailey’s father had called him, saying they hadn’t been able to get in touch with his son and they were going through his phone records.