While a city police helicopter hovered overhead, Coast Guard and police officers in three search boats on the Potomac River yesterday recovered the bodies of three District of Columbia residents who disappeared while fishing in a boat Wednesday.
Police said the three bodies were found in the middle of the river, about 125 yards from the Naval Research Laboratory pier in Southwest Washington in the vicinity where the first body was discovered Friday during a massive all day search.
But the 20 foot blue and white fiberglass outboard motor boat used by the four was not found by D.C. harbor police after a search all day yesterday.
Police identified the bodies found yesterday as Myshella Robinson, 32, and Lee Norman Champ, 42, both of 510 5th St. NE, and Arthur Perry, 43, of 1445 Park Rd. NW.
The body of Alberta Twyman, 40, who lived with Perry at the Park Road address, was recovered Friday.
Twyman's death has been ruled a drowning, according to the D.C. medical examiner. Autopsies on the other victims were incomplete late yesterday.
Police said they do not suspect any foul play is connected with the incident.
None of the victims had on a life jacket. Two orange life jackets were pulled from the river in the area where the bodies were found and police believe they belonged to the four.
The three bodies were found about 10 a.m. yesterday after a man in a boat reported he had spotted a body floating in the river.
The Coast Guard and D.C. harbor police who were in the vicinity searched the area and recovered all three bodies within 30 to 50 feet of one another. The bodies were in water about 25 to 30 feet deep, police said.
Police marked the area where the bodies were found and planned to continue the search for the boat today. Police said the boat should give them the best clue as to possible causes of the accident.
"It's no telling what happened," said one harbor police officer. "They could have hit something."
The two couples were out on the water during the night and police said the river can be dangerous for people inexperienced with boats.
According to friends, Champ, who owned the boat, was not an experienced boatman. Friends also said that none of the four victims could swim.
Champ and Robinson left their Northeast Washington home about 6 p.m. Wednesday. Their 18-month-old daughter, Nicola, and 6-month-old son, Lee, were left with a next door neighbor, who was told that the couple planned to return uithin a few hours.
Yesterday Champ's 1969 yellow Buick Skylark was still in a parking lot near the river that is regularly used by people going boating.
A swimming medal was on the dashboard and a parking ticket was on the front window. A gray shirt with a District of Columbia Department of Recreation insignia on the sleeve was on the back seat.
The two couples planned to go downstream in the boat to Marshall Hall near Fort Washington in Prince George's County, according to friends.
Their bodies were found about four miles downstream from Gravely Point. Police said they believe the two couples were heading back to Gravely Point when the accident occurred.
Perry and Champ worked in the maintenance division of the D.C. Department of Recreation. Twyman worked as a cleaning woman in a building on 14th Street NW. Robinson was employed as a dietician for a retirement home in Maryland.
Police said there have been 15 drownings in the D.C. section of the river this year.