No foul play suspected in missing Duke student’s death, Mass. officials say

Michael Doherty (Facebook/CBS Boston)

FRANKLIN, Mass. (WNCN) — Massachusetts authorities confirmed Monday that a body found in the woods on the afternoon of May 20 was that of Michael Doherty, a Duke student who had been missing for about a week.

The Office of Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey sent a press release stating that no foul play is suspected in the 20-year-old Massachusetts native’s death.

Doherty was last seen early on May 14 in Franklin, Massachusetts.

Police said Doherty was at a friend’s party and decided to walk home. It was about a mile, it was raining and dark. Friends said his cell phone wasn’t charged.

“He was fine. I mean he was coherent. He was talking,” a friend said.

Police and volunteers searched a swampy area near that home. Police said Doherty may have tried to cut through the area, which is four-to-five feet deep in spots.


On May 15, police found Michael’s shirt and two sneakers in that swamp.

The Franklin Police Department said in a news release on May 20 that a body was found around 2:30 p.m. in “dense woods and thick underbrush.”

Officials said the body found Saturday near Interstate 495 is “believed at this time to be Michael Doherty.”

His identity has since been confirmed.

Authorities said the medical examiner’s office has not issued their final report, but preliminary information shows no signs of trauma or foul play. The cause and manner of death are undetermined at this point.

“Our first thought is with Michael’s family and friends,” District Attorney Morrissey said. “To them we extend our sincere condolences. I would be remiss if I did not thank the Franklin Police, regional and state law enforcement and so many in the community for their days and days of sustained searching in difficult terrain. The result was not what we had hoped.”

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