A beloved Connecticut school teacher who disappeared in the early morning hours of his 50th birthday while quarantining over COVID-19 fears, has been found dead, according to the Suffolk County Police Department.
The body of Gil Cunha was found in the waters off the coast of Long Island in Suffolk County, New York, near Fire Island, according to a release emailed to Dateline by the Suffolk County Police.
The release stated that a boater discovered Gil’s partial remains on Thursday.
“Detectives determined the remains were from a body that had been discovered after being struck by the propeller of a tugboat on May 27 at 6:50 a.m.,” Suffolk County Police said in a statement. “The cause of death is under investigation.”
Bob Tavares, who spoke to Dateline about his missing cousin for “Missing in America” last week believes the recent coverage helped detectives connect the dots.
“A terrible outcome but at least the family can have some closure,” he told Dateline.
Gil was last seen by his father at his parents’ home in West Haven, Connecticut, just after midnight on May 7, 2020. Later that morning, his parents woke up to find that Gil was gone and assumed he had gone on one of his daily walks.
Lori Kenney, another of Gil’s cousins, told Dateline last week that it wasn’t unusual for Gil to go on walks.
“But when he didn’t return later that day, his mom knew something was wrong,” Lori said. “He wouldn’t just take off without contacting his family.”
The family told Dateline that Gil had left his cell phone at home, along with his wallet. There had not been any activity on his accounts, his family has said.
Both Lori and Bob previously told Dateline that the family was also concerned because Gil had been experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and self-quarantined for three weeks prior to his disappearance.
“He was never tested for the virus. But he wasn’t feeling well and decided to self-isolate in his room because he was afraid he had the virus,” Lori said. “He wanted to make sure his family was safe.”
Gil had recently moved in with his parents in West Haven after living and teaching in Europe for the past 10 years.
The cousins described Gil as a “kind and gentle, highly responsible person with a warm heart.” He was also a talented guitar player and aspiring songwriter.
For two months, search teams, friends and family members continued looking for Gil -- and held on to hope that he was still alive. But there was no trace of Gil and no answers, until now.
Investigators from both Suffolk County Police Department and West Haven Police Department are working with a medical examiner to determine Gil’s cause and manner of death.
“With respect to Mr. Cunha’s family and friends, no further information will be released at this time,” West Haven Police said in a statement.
Anyone with information that might be helpful to Gil’s case is asked to call the West Haven Police at 203-937-3900 or the Suffolk County Police at 631-852-6396.