Body pulled from Casco Bay confirmed to be missing Harvard student

A body is loaded into a hearse Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 12:45 p.m. at the Ocean Gateway Terminal in Portland.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
A body is loaded into a hearse Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 12:45 p.m. at the Ocean Gateway Terminal in Portland.
By Seth Koenig, BDN Staff
Posted May 22, 2012, at 12:58 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Police confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the body pulled out of Casco Bay at 11:45 a.m. was that of Harvard Business School student Nathan Bihlmaier, 31, of Cambridge, Mass.

Bihlmaier had been missing from the Old Port since early Sunday morning and was soon to graduate.

Police said during a press conference that Bihlmaier’s body was found at the bottom of the bay near the Custom House Wharf, two wharves southwest of the Maine State Pier, where Bihlmaier last was seen. The body was taken to the state medical examiner’s office.

“We don’t have any indication at this point there was any kind of crime,” said Police Chief Michael Sauschuck.

Sauschuck said contrary to what was reported previously, police determined Bihlmaier left Ri Ra Irish Pub closer to 11:30 p.m. Saturday. Previous police updates indicated he was asked to leave the bar because he was visibly intoxicated around 12:20 a.m. Sunday.

Sauschuck said Bihlmaier’s cellphone stopped transmitting at 12:54 a.m. Sunday, nearly 40 minutes after he last spoke to a friend about setting up a rendezvous place. In that call, the chief said, Bihlmaier said he was in front of a building on Commercial Street that police later came to believe was the U.S. Custom House.

Investigators will look at area security videos in an effort to determine where Bihlmaier went and where he fell into the water, Sauschuck said. It remains unclear whether the man’s cellphone stopped transmitting because that’s when he went underwater or because it simply ran out of battery charge at that time.

The chief described a group of between 18 and 20 of Bihlmaier’s friends and family members who came to Portland to aid in the search as “an incredibly strong and vibrant group.”

Harvard Business School spokesman Brian Kenny, who spoke to reporters outside the Hilton Garden Inn on Commercial Street before the press conference Tuesday, said many on the scene assumed early on the body belonged to Bihlmaier.

“I would say the family is understandably upset,” Kenny said, adding that while the family would “be glad to have closure, I think we all held out hope he was alive as long as the search was going on.”

Investigators said Monday they had found an article of clothing in Casco Bay near the Maine State Pier and Ri Ra Irish Pub, where he last was seen. Sauschuck had asked for the public’s help in finding the missing man.

Bihlmaier was in the city with two friends celebrating his upcoming graduation from Harvard Business School when he disappeared.

Bihlmaier’s friends reported him missing to Portland police around 9 a.m. Monday, the chief said.

Sauschuck said the search has involved the U.S. Coast Guard, South Portland dive team, Maine Marine Patrol, harbor patrol and the Portland Fire Department. He said Maine State Police brought in side-scanning sonar to search the harbor as well.

Bihlmaier and his wife reportedly are expecting their first child.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/05/22/news/portland/body-pulled-from-casco-bay/ printed on August 1, 2014