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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Man Who Died in Florida Identified as Missing Westport Bartender

A man who died in Florida from unknown causes has been identified as bartender David Bargmann from Westport’s V Restaurant & Wine Bar, missing since last March, Cablevision News-12 reported today.

Police in Monroe County, Florida, were called to a man who needed medical attention three days after the 44-year-old Fairfield man disappeared on March 24, 2003 without a trace, the report said. He later died.

There was no immediate word on why identification of the man by fingerprints took such a long time.

The report said the cause of death was under investigation but that police did not suspect foul play.

Bargmann’s disappearance touched off a widespread search but police came up with no leads.

The Connecticut Post reported in its Friday edition that the case was cracked by a 52-year-old disabled woman in Georgia, who searches Web sites of missing persons and unidentified bodies in hopes of finding matches.

It said a “John Doe” who died last March 27 in Key West, Fla., was positively identified as Bargmann, according to Michael Bates, chief investigator at the Monroe County medical examiner’s office.

“He has been positively identified through comparison fingerprints that were provided to us by the Fairfield Police Department,” Bates said.

Bates declined to say how Bargmann died, though he said, “We could probably rule out foul play at this point.”

Officers in Key West, Fla., responded March 27 to a call of a man needing medical attention. Paramedics brought the man, who had no identification, to Lower Keys Medical Hospital, where he was pronounced dead several hours later, Fairfield police said.

The unidentified body was then released to a Monroe County, Fla., funeral home for burial under the name of John Doe, Fairfield police said.

Brenda J. Pass of Williamson, Ga., who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, said she was searching through the Florida Unidentified Decedents Database, a Web site, earlier this week when she saw that an unidentified man had died March 27 in Florida.

There was no photo of the man’s face and only the vaguest description of the body, Pass said.

Pass then went to the Missing Person Cold Case Network’s Web site, entered “March 2003” and found Bargmann. “It was almost like an immediate thing,” she said.

Pass said she was “pretty sure” she had matched the unidentified body on one Web site to Bargmann’s photo and information on the other Web site. “What the date was is what captured my attention the most,” she said.

Pass then e-mailed her discovery to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office, who contacted Fairfield police for Bargmann’s fingerprints.

Bates would not say whether the “John Doe” had to be exhumed, and Key West detectives did not return several phone calls, the Post reported.

Pass had no explanation about how she made the match between the unidentified man in Florida and Bargmann.

“It was just kind of strange I would hit on this one person,” Pass told the newspaper. “It was almost like I had a guiding hand.”

Pass said she hopes Bargmann’s family now has some peace of mind. “I just don’t know what I would do if it were me, and I had a family member who was missing, and I didn’t know what happened,” Pass said.

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Posted 01/29/04 at 09:34 PM  Permalink



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