After months of holding out hope and prayers, the worst fears of a family and an entire community have become a reality, but more questions remain to be answered. The remains that washed up onto Ocean City, Md.’s beach in late April were identified as that of Greg Forte, a 29-year-old Selbyville man who went missing in early February.
Intensive search efforts were scaled back weeks after Forte went missing from a Fenwick Island condominium on Feb. 9, but, according to Sgt. Walter Newton of the Delaware State Police, the case remained open.
“We looked for leads in the investigation,” Newton noted, “but we did not receive very many.”
Forte’s friends and family joined the search, but to no avail. Forte’s vehicle was located shortly after he went missing, with the radio on, keys in the ignition and the driver’s door open. It was parked under a carport at the condo. His cell phone, with a dead battery, was found in his Jeep, and his hat was also located along a path to the beach.
Reports noted that Forte was last seen, barefoot, on the evening before the first of several blizzards hit the region. Flyers and posters were posted throughout the community, and notifications set up by friends and families on online networks such as Facebook solicited support and prayers from others.
When reports of human remains being located on the beach in Ocean City came in last month, some already feared the worst. The remains were discovered by beachgoers and local police officers between North Division and Fourth streets in Ocean City on April 28 and 29. Due to the state of the remains, retrieving a positive identification took several weeks, but a statement released by Ocean City Police Chief Bernadette DiPino last week confirmed them as being Forte’s.
The cause of death was stated by the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner as being undetermined.
“If it was a natural death,” said Newton, “as by drowning, the investigation will close out the missing-person case. If it comes back that there were signs of assault or homicide, then the investigation will pick back up.” He added that it is not known how long that process will take.
A memorial service will be held in celebration of Forte’s life on Wednesday, June 9, at 11 a.m. at St. Andrew’s Catholic Center, located at 144th Street in Ocean City. In lieu of flowers, Forte’s family is asking for donations toward a scholarship fund established in Forte’s memory, for Indian River High School soccer scholars, c/o Greg Forte Fund, PNC, Fenwick Island, DE 19944. Online condolences can be sent by visiting www.melsonfuneralservices.com.