Authorities say a series of coincidences led kayakers to find a body in the Mahoning River on July 5, 2020, but science was needed to identify the remains and it’s up to the public to help investigators find out what happened.

On Thursday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced that the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) conducted forensic testing and DNA analysis to identify Bessie Ryan, 40, who was reported missing from Warren in March, four months before her discovery.

“BCI’s forensic work names the nameless — and the identification of a missing person may be the first step in solving a case,” Yost said. “On behalf of the many families searching for hope, I’m grateful for the work that BCI does to reunite families with their missing loved ones.”

Patrick Carroll found the body while he was paddling on the river in Trumbull County near the McDonald Steel Corporation. He was with a large group including numerous children when he saw what appeared to be a toy box under the water. He couldn’t pull it up but when turned he saw the body.

It was a chance discovery.

Carroll told reporters from Youngstown’s newspaper, The Vindicator, that he had no intention of kayaking that weekend. One friend asked to borrow his boat and he decided to go along and other families decided to join them because everything was closed due to COVID-19.

No one in the group could provide an exact address so emergency dispatchers pinged Carroll’s phone. They all waited there until police and firefighters arrived.

Anyone with information concerning Ryan’s disappearance is urged to contact Lt. Ryan Ronghi with McDonald Police Department at 330-530-5472 or the Trumbull County 911 Center at 330-675-2730.

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