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Cape Cod Times
By Susan Milton email@example.com
August 25, 2011
A state police boat heads to the Chatham fish pier Wednesday after recovering a body off the Chatham coast. District Attorney Michael O’Keefe’s office confirmed the body was Rachel Collins, who had been missing since the weekend.Cape Cod Times/Merrily Cassidy
CHATHAM The search for a missing Rhode Island woman ended sadly at about noon Wednesday when a boater found her body floating two miles off Chatham, according to Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe.
A boater found Rachel Collins, 37, of West Warwick, near the newest inlet between Pleasant Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, according to Chatham Police Chief Mark Pawlina. The location, which has become a fishing hot-spot, is about 10 miles south of Nauset Light Beach in Eastham, where a reportedly distraught Collins left her car, purse and cellphone sometime between late Friday night and early Saturday morning.
An autopsy by the state medical examiner’s office will attempt to determine Collins’ cause of death. A preliminary investigation suggests no foul play was involved, O’Keefe said in a press release issued Wednesday afternoon.
Collins’ cousin Joel Robinson said his relative had battled depression and took medication. “As a family we are considering this as a suicide, which is devastating,” Robinson said.
“She was extremely happy and bubbly as a child,” he said. “She was a naturally positive girl, very lighthearted with a great sense of humor.”
Robinson said his family and Collins’ family were close, especially when both were living in Florida 30 years ago. The two families visited often after Collins’ family moved to the Cape, and Robinson said he kept in touch with her through the years since.
Robinson said Collins, who has three siblings, had been spending time with her father, who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and was essentially confined to bed.
A roommate reported Collins missing early Sunday because she hadn’t shown up for her shift at Rhode Island Hospital. Collins has worked there since February as a psychiatric nurse.
A two-day search on land and sea utilizing helicopters, search dogs, ATVs and foot patrols was scaled back Tuesday. A state police dive team looked in the waters off Nauset Light Beach until 11:30 a.m. Wednesday using a side-scan sonar sled.
After the 911 call reporting a body off Chatham, a fast-moving convoy of state police, harbor patrol and Coast Guard boats retrieved the body and ferried it back to the Chatham Fish Pier by 12:20 p.m. Although Collins was not publicly identified for several hours, word that “the missing woman” had been found spread quickly among officials and fishermen at the small port. By late afternoon, O’Keefe’s office confirmed that it was Collins.
The entire pier, including the fish market, was closed to visitors and customers for about an hour and a half.
Staff writer Doug Fraser contributed to this report.