American man wanted by FBI found dead in Kerry after being identified through DNA testing

Toothbrush Test | 

Thomas Stofiel had been living in Atlas House in Tralee and was last seen on September 25, 2020.

Thomas Stofiel in a photo issued by the FBI.

THE body of an American citizen, who had been wanted by the FBI before seeking asylum in Ireland, was identified by DNA from his toothbrush, an inquest into his death heard last week.

Thomas Stofiel had been living in Atlas House in Tralee and was last seen on September 25, 2020.

His body was found by farmer Joe Fitzgerald on November 14, 2020, in the mountainous Tonevane area while Mr Fitzgerald was out looking for sheep. He told the inquest that he saw the body and phoned the emergency services.

The inquest heard that the body was across a ravine and on difficult terrain. It was inaccessible at that time, and assistance was sought from Kerry Mountain Rescue. Cash of €1,220 was found on the body, and a social-welfare receipt.

The American Embassy confirmed his identity from an ID card found on the body, which matched a passport issued to him, but ultimately DNA confirmed that the man was Mr Stofiel, who was from Oregon in the US.

A DNA swab taken from his toothbrush and razor was used to confirm it was Mr Stofiel and that, ultimately, this DNA led matched him to his biological daughter, the inquest was told.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster gave evidence that she carried out a post-mortem on November 15, 2020, on the man that was presumed to be Mr Stofiel.

The body was in an advanced state of decomposition. Gardaí said there was no suspicion of anyone else being involved in the death and a verdict of suicide was returned.

Coroner Helen Lucey said that the ‘course of his life’ changed, and that led him to this remote spot. She expressed sympathy to his daughter, and she praised the honesty of all those involved in the recovery of the body given the substantial sum of money found.

She also praised the media for their role in identifying the remains. Mr Stiofel, according to reports, had been the subject of an FBI and police manhunt in Oregon after he went missing in 2017. Mr Stiofel had extreme religious beliefs and was a person who believed that a catastrophic event is coming. Such a person is known as a prepper. When in Tralee, he worked in a local restaurant and was buried in Rath.

If you’ve been affected by the content in this article, you can contact a number of groups, such as AWARE (1800 80 48 48), Pieta House (066 716 3660), and Samaritans (116 123).

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