Body found in Potomac near Georgetown

April 17, 2013

In what has been become a gruesome ritual this month, another in a succession of bodies has been found in a District waterway, this one pulled Wednesday afternoon from the Potomac River near Georgetown and the Key Bridge.

D.C. police said there appeared to be no connection between any of the recent cases. Detectives are awaiting autopsy results in all four deaths, but authorities have said at least one death may have been a suicide and another an accident. Relatives of a man pulled from the Anacostia River suspect foul play.

A spokesman for the D.C. fire department said four bodies in 17 days is unusual, but comprehensive data for purposes of comparison were not readily available, given the number of police agencies that respond to such calls.

Still, such clusters do occur, officials said; three bodies were found in the Anacostia River near the 11th Street Bridge between July and October 2011, for example, and one was found there in 2012.

Wednesday’s discovery came about 12:20 p.m., when fire officials said two kayakers pulled the body of an adult male to the shore from a spot about 400 yards west of the Key Bridge. Police went to the 3700 block of Water Street NW, near the Washington Canoe Club. Authorities would not give additional details.

As is routine with all suspicious deaths, D.C. homicide detectives were called to the scene. The body was taken to the D.C. medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.

At least one body has been discovered each week this month. Two were found in the first week of April, and three were evenly spaced, at five days apart.

Last Thursday, the body of a Chicago tourist was found in the Tidal Basin at the height of cherry blossom season, when tens of thousands of visitors were visiting the city. Sarath Kumar Potharaju, 35, disappeared Easter Sunday while sightseeing with relatives; police said he might have fallen into the 10-foot deep water.

On April 6, a fisherman found the body of Robert Groshan, 63, of Northwest Washington in the Potomac River near the statue of John Ericsson, a Civil War-era inventor. The discovery occurred near Ohio Drive and a riverfront path used by tourists to reach the blossoms at the Tidal Basin. Police have said they suspect suicide in that case, but they are awaiting test results before making a final determination.

On April 1, student rowers from Arlington County’s Wakefield High School crew club spotted a body in the Anacostia River near Langston Golf Course. The dead man was identified as Arlester Jay, 36, an Iraqi war veteran who had gone missing from Prince George’s County in early March. Relatives said they do not believe that Jay’s death was an accident. Authorities say they have not determined how he died.

The coach of the high school crew club declined to comment. A spokesman for the school system, Frank Bellavia, confirmed that student rowers made the discovery.

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