Database used on Donofrio case

YOUNGSTOWN – The identity of a missing bar owner was confirmed just days after it was entered into a national database for missing persons.

The remains were matched to dental records for 64-year-old James Donofrio, who was reported missing Sept. 25, 2011, and whose body was found on the Ohio side of the Ohio River March 25, 2012, in Carlington.

West Virginia took possession of the body because it has jurisdiction on all cases involving the river. It wasn’t entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons database, or NamUs, until March 27 of this year.

A match was made Monday evening, according to Todd Matthews, director of communications for NamUs.

Youngstown police Chief Rod Foley had said Tuesday he wondered why it took so long for Donofrio’s body to be identified.

Matthews said NamUs became involved on March 27 when West Virginia authorities supplied the information on the body that had been found. He said a dentist who works for them was downloading the information Monday evening and came upon a particular part of dental work on the middle part of Donofrio’s teeth and then searched the records and found the match.

He said typically, the records of remains are entered into NamUs after authorities exhaust all of their own resources to find the identity of the person. He said the time frame of over a year to make an identification is not uncommon in some cases. In Donofrio’s case, he said the fact the body was in the water for a long time may have hampered West Virginia authorities’ efforts to identify the remains.

”Things really worked as they should’ve,” Matthews said.

Marcia Dadison, a spokeswoman for the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office, said that an autopsy was done on the body of Donofrio, but the autopsy was still incomplete.

Dadison said the medical examiner’s office uses NAMUS on all cases where a body does not have an identification and that the response time for providing an identity varies on a case-by-case basis.

Donofrio was the subject of an intense search on the banks of the Mahoning River in the days after his disappearance. He was the owner of the Avalon Gardens Restaurant and Bar on Belmont Avenue.

Foley said Youngstown investigators were told that it appeared that Donofrio’s body had been in the river for six months before it was found and any injuries were caused after he was already dead.

Clarington is about 115 miles away from Youngstown. Police say they want a cause of death for Donofrio and also want to see if they can find out how his body wound up so far from Youngstown.

NAMUS is run by the U.S. Department of Justice.