AP NEWS

Body pulled from Bridgeport pond ID’d; toxicology reports pending

February 13, 2019

BRIDGEPORT — The man whose frozen body was pulled from Bunnells Pond in Beardsley Park in late January has been identified, but his cause and manner of death are still pending further investigation.

Police Capt. Brian Fitzgerald said Tuesday the victim was 50-year-old James Freeman. Funeral service information indicated Freeman was a Bridgeport resident at the time of his death.

Services for Freeman are planned for Saturday at Morton’s Mortuary, 25 Margaret E. Morton Lane in Bridgeport. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., followed by a service at 11 a.m.

A brief obituary for Freeman said he was born on April 24, 1968.

Keshia Bush, Freeman’s daughter, said in several Facebook posts that she is heartbroken by the loss of her father. She shared a news post of the day her father was pulled from the pond, adding that she didn’t know it was him when the news broke.

“He was there days & we didn’t know, my daddy was alone for days, ” Bush wrote in another post on Feb. 7. “Nobody knew who he was. I didn’t know that was him.”

A few days later, Bush expressed disbelief over making funeral arrangements for Freeman.

A fundraiser to cover funeral costs has been set up on the Morton’s Mortuary website for Freeman.

“Have peace of mind knowing that your funeral donations will be helpful to the loved ones of the deceased,” the fundraiser said.

Donations can be made here. As of Tuesday, $300 had been donated to cover the $4,000 goal.

The cause and manner of Freeman’s death is still under investigation as of Tuesday, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington.

“We still don’t have a toxicology report back from the medical examiner,” said Police Capt. Brian Fitzgerald, who oversees the Detective Bureau, which is handling the investigation into Freeman’s death.

A decision on cause and manner of death will be made after toxicology reports come back, according to the OCME. Toxicology reports take about six to eight weeks.

On Thursday, Jan. 31 Bridgeport first responders and police units rushed to Bunnells Pond in Beardsley Park shortly after 11 a.m. when a passerby called in a person in the water.

Deputy Chief Ronald Rolfe said firefighters found “an unresponsive person in the water.” By 11:20 a.m., firefighters had pulled Freeman’s body from the water. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

That day Police Chief Armando Perez said Freeman’s body was pulled from the pond frozen and unclothed. He said investigators found a little blood on Freeman’s clothes and near the shore where he was found. Despite this, Perez said, there were no signs of foul play.

Perez said back in January that though there were no indications of foul play, cause of death would be up to the medical examiner once the toxicology reports are returned.

Temperatures hit single digits the night before Freeman’s body was found, and stayed below freezing that Thursday morning. It was unclear how long Freeman was in the pond before it was called in.

The pond feeds into the Pequonnock River and runs next to the Beardsley Zoo. Boats are not allowed on the pond and signs indicate “no swimming” is allowed in the water.

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