Headless, armless torso found on Queens Beach may belong to Emmy-winning filmmaker

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By VT

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Authorities in Queens, New York, believe that the headless and armless torso discovered on a local beach belongs to acclaimed Irish filmmaker and photographer Ross McDonnell, who was last seen over two weeks ago.

McDonnell, an Emmy-winning cinematographer, is believed to have drowned during a late-night ocean swim, a passion he often pursued. Friends of the filmmaker identified distinctive birthmarks and red Adidas swim trunks found on the remains, further pointing to McDonnell's tragic fate.

While official confirmation awaits DNA testing by the medical examiner, it appears that McDonnell went for a swim near Fort Tilden Beach, one of his favorite spots, on the night of November 4. Despite his experience in the water, he tragically disappeared beneath the waves, Sky News reports.

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Directors Ross McDonnell and Carter Gunn attend the Colony Premiere held at AMC 2 during the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2009 in Toronto, Canada. Credit: Matthew Simmons / Getty

NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny stated, "He was known to do this, and it appears he drowned." Authorities do not suspect foul play in his disappearance.

A fisherman made the grim discovery in front of the Silver Gull Beach Club, near Breezy Point on the Rockaway peninsula, last Friday. The severe state of decomposition and the absence of the head and arms suggest that the rough surf in the area may have caused these injuries.

McDonnell's bike, found locked up at Fort Tilden Beach on November 7, indicated his intention to return, according to Kenny. Friends revealed that he would often embark on extended trips for his photography and filmmaking pursuits.

The sudden disappearance of McDonnell has deeply affected his close friends, who were left with many unanswered questions about the circumstances surrounding his passing. Gene Gallerano, a friend of McDonnell's, described the emotional toll, saying, "It's been a very, very emotionally heavy week."

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Credit: Matthew Simmons / Getty

Authorities initially struggled to determine the identity and cause of death due to the body's condition. However, they made crucial discoveries that led to the identification of McDonnell.

A bloodhound from the US Park Police traced a scent to the edge of a rock jetty, where some of McDonnell's clothing was found. Friends provided photographs, including one showing him wearing the same bathing suit found on the torso and another revealing a matching birthmark.

Police are working to retrieve surveillance footage from the marine park, which might show McDonnell heading towards the ocean.

McDonnell, a native of Dublin known for his travel and documentary work, achieved acclaim for his cinematography, winning an Emmy in 2021 for his contributions to the Showtime series The Trade.

His debut feature film, Colony, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and earned him an IDFA First Feature Award and an Irish Film and Television Award Nomination.

Additionally, McDonnell was shortlisted for the prestigious "Prix Pictet," a renowned photography award, during its 2019 cycle with the theme "Hope."

His dedication to his craft earned him an Emmy nomination in 2018 for directing the documentary Elian, which was produced by CNN Films, the BBC, and Jigsaw Productions. The tragic loss of this talented filmmaker has left a void in the world of cinema and photography.

Featured image credit: Mario Tama / Getty

Headless, armless torso found on Queens Beach may belong to Emmy-winning filmmaker

vt-author-image

By VT

Article saved!Article saved!

Authorities in Queens, New York, believe that the headless and armless torso discovered on a local beach belongs to acclaimed Irish filmmaker and photographer Ross McDonnell, who was last seen over two weeks ago.

McDonnell, an Emmy-winning cinematographer, is believed to have drowned during a late-night ocean swim, a passion he often pursued. Friends of the filmmaker identified distinctive birthmarks and red Adidas swim trunks found on the remains, further pointing to McDonnell's tragic fate.

While official confirmation awaits DNA testing by the medical examiner, it appears that McDonnell went for a swim near Fort Tilden Beach, one of his favorite spots, on the night of November 4. Despite his experience in the water, he tragically disappeared beneath the waves, Sky News reports.

size-full wp-image-1263237730
Directors Ross McDonnell and Carter Gunn attend the Colony Premiere held at AMC 2 during the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival on September 12, 2009 in Toronto, Canada. Credit: Matthew Simmons / Getty

NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny stated, "He was known to do this, and it appears he drowned." Authorities do not suspect foul play in his disappearance.

A fisherman made the grim discovery in front of the Silver Gull Beach Club, near Breezy Point on the Rockaway peninsula, last Friday. The severe state of decomposition and the absence of the head and arms suggest that the rough surf in the area may have caused these injuries.

McDonnell's bike, found locked up at Fort Tilden Beach on November 7, indicated his intention to return, according to Kenny. Friends revealed that he would often embark on extended trips for his photography and filmmaking pursuits.

The sudden disappearance of McDonnell has deeply affected his close friends, who were left with many unanswered questions about the circumstances surrounding his passing. Gene Gallerano, a friend of McDonnell's, described the emotional toll, saying, "It's been a very, very emotionally heavy week."

size-full wp-image-1263237731
Credit: Matthew Simmons / Getty

Authorities initially struggled to determine the identity and cause of death due to the body's condition. However, they made crucial discoveries that led to the identification of McDonnell.

A bloodhound from the US Park Police traced a scent to the edge of a rock jetty, where some of McDonnell's clothing was found. Friends provided photographs, including one showing him wearing the same bathing suit found on the torso and another revealing a matching birthmark.

Police are working to retrieve surveillance footage from the marine park, which might show McDonnell heading towards the ocean.

McDonnell, a native of Dublin known for his travel and documentary work, achieved acclaim for his cinematography, winning an Emmy in 2021 for his contributions to the Showtime series The Trade.

His debut feature film, Colony, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and earned him an IDFA First Feature Award and an Irish Film and Television Award Nomination.

Additionally, McDonnell was shortlisted for the prestigious "Prix Pictet," a renowned photography award, during its 2019 cycle with the theme "Hope."

His dedication to his craft earned him an Emmy nomination in 2018 for directing the documentary Elian, which was produced by CNN Films, the BBC, and Jigsaw Productions. The tragic loss of this talented filmmaker has left a void in the world of cinema and photography.

Featured image credit: Mario Tama / Getty