An American citizen who had been sought by the FBI before seeking asylum in Ireland was discovered deceased in Kerry and identified through DNA testing, according to an inquest into his death held last week.
Thomas Stofiel had been residing in Atlas House in Tralee and was last seen on September 25, 2020. His remains were found by farmer Joe Fitzgerald on November 14, 2020, in the rugged Tonevane area while Mr. Fitzgerald was searching for sheep. He promptly alerted emergency services.
The inquest revealed that the body was located across a ravine, in challenging terrain that was inaccessible at the time. Assistance was requested from Kerry Mountain Rescue during the recovery effort. A sum of €1,220 in cash and a social welfare receipt were found on the deceased.
The American Embassy initially confirmed his identity from an ID card discovered on the body, which matched a passport issued in his name. However, DNA testing ultimately confirmed that the deceased was indeed Mr. Stofiel, hailing from Oregon, USA.
DNA samples collected from his toothbrush and razor were utilized to verify his identity and establish a genetic link to his biological daughter, as reported during the inquest.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr. Margot Bolster conducted a post-mortem examination on November 15, 2020, on the individual presumed to be Mr. Stofiel, who was in an advanced state of decomposition. Gardaí stated there was no suspicion of foul play, and a verdict of suicide was returned.
Coroner Helen Lucey acknowledged the significant changes in Mr. Stofiel’s life and the remote location where he was found. She expressed sympathy for his daughter and commended the honesty of those involved in the recovery process, given the substantial amount of money discovered.
She also praised the media for their role in identifying the remains. Reports indicate that Mr. Stofiel had been the subject of an FBI and police manhunt in Oregon after he went missing in 2017. Known for his extreme religious beliefs and prepper outlook, he had been employed at a local restaurant in Tralee and was laid to rest in Rath.