A New Haven teen drowned in May, but his body was not identifying until about two months later. New Haven police are blaming a technological oversight and said the investigation was not compromised.
Mutalib :Bobby" Bello’s family said the 18-year-old was reported missing on May 10. His body was found eight days later in the West River but was not identified until mid-July, when a tip led his sister to an unidentified persons database online.
Aisha Stedford said she and her mother tried to file a missing persons case, but the New Haven Police Department turned them away.
When Stedford checked the database after getting the tip, she saw a man’s body with tattoos that matched her brother’s and the unidentified body turned out to be Bobby Bello.
Police released a statement on Thursday, saying the tattoos were not visible when Bello’s body was removed from the water. Once they became visible, a second set of photographs were taken, but those pictures did not load onto the disk that had been prepared for the detectives to review.
“This was an unfortunate technological oversight,” police said in an e-mail.
In addition to the problem with the photos, the report from the Medical Examiner's office estimated Bello’s age as between 30 and 50 years.
“When Bello's family reported the 18 year old missing, the age discrepancy and lack of photos simply didn't connect the missing person report to the death. For these mistakes, the Police Department has apologized to the family,” police said.
Police said on Thursday that the integrity of the investigation has not waned or been compromised in any way.
Stedford believes her brother was targeted and she vows to fight to find out what happened to him.
Police said on Thursday that the cause of death has been determined to be asphyxia due to submersion, or drowning, and there is no evidence to support anything else, but the manner of death is undetermined, so the case remains open, police said.