CHATHAM — Investigators say foul play is not likely a factor in the death of a man whose decomposed remains were found inside the rescue boat on display at the Coast Guard station Sunday. But they're eager to learn more about the death, and how it apparently went undiscovered for months under the noses of officials at the most visited, photographed site in town.
On Monday, the Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office confirmed the discovery of a human body inside a watertight compartment on the CG44301, the decommissioned motor lifeboat displayed in front of Coast Guard Station Chatham. On Thursday, they confirmed that the body was that of 24-year-old Matthew Amsler of Chatham, who went missing on Oct. 27.
Shortly after 9 p.m. Sunday, Coast Guard personnel were reportedly conducting a training exercise when they made the discovery and notified police.
“Preliminary investigation has not revealed any evidence that foul play was involved,” a statement from the District Attorney's office reads.
An online fundraising site, established by Amsler's friends last year to support the search, is now collecting contributions to defray funeral expenses and to support his family.
The matter remains under active investigation by Massachusetts State Police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s office, Chatham Police and Coast Guard Investigative Services.
The rescue boat display was dedicated in May, and a timber pier was installed to allow visitors to reach the deck.
Asked whether the compartments of the boat had been open for tours, a Coast Guard spokeswoman at First District Headquarters in Boston declined to comment, saying the matter is an element of their investigation. The spokeswoman also declined to say what Station Chatham's procedures were with regard to inspecting and maintaining the boat, citing the same reason. It remains unclear if the door to the compartment was locked.
Amsler went missing on Thursday, Oct. 27, and police launched an extensive investigation that even included a helicopter search of the area of Lighthouse Beach, where he was last seen. He has a wife, a young daughter and parents in town.
On Monday, there were few hints that anything was awry at the Coast Guard station. A tent had been erected on the front lawn, where the station's crew had planned to celebrate the retirement of one of its members. That celebration was hastily relocated to another venue. On Tuesday, a bouquet of flowers had been placed on the fence near the rescue boat.
Updated on 8/4/17 at 8:20 a.m.