Local Man’s Cause Of Death Remains A Mystery

OCEAN CITY – The human
skeletal remains discovered on the beach in late April were positively
identified as those of a missing Selbyville man late last week, providing some
measure of closure for family and friends, but it now appears investigators
might never be able to solve the mystery surrounding the disappearance.

Late last Friday, the
Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the skeletal remains found washed
up on a wide swath of beach in south Ocean City belonged to Greg Forte, 29, of
Selbyville, who was last seen around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 9 at a small gathering
in a condominium on South Carolina Ave. in Fenwick. The medical examiner’s
office identified the remains as Forte using DNA evidence and the cause and
manner of death was listed as undetermined.

A call to the Medical
Examiner’s Office yesterday confirmed the cause of death is still listed as
undetermined and it now appears investigators may never find out exactly what happened
that fateful night. Delaware State Police Public Information Officer Sgt.
Walter Newton said yesterday the investigation remains open, but there is
little new information.

“There is nothing new in
terms of our investigation,” he said. “We’ve obviously closed the missing
person portion of the case, but otherwise, we have very little to go on. Unless
some new evidence comes to light, we might never know exactly what happened.”

As far as Ocean City’s
role in the investigation, while the Ocean City Police Department (OCPD)
continues to offer any requested assistance from Delaware State Police, there
is little or no investigation happening on the Maryland side where the remains
were recovered, according to OCPD Public Affairs Specialist Jessica Waters.

“We don’t have anything
new,” she said yesterday. “As far as the actual investigation into his
disappearance, our role ended when we found out it was him. We’ve been trying
to assist in any way, but because it happened on the Delaware side, we aren’t
actively involved in the investigation.”

When Forte did not
return home after a party on Feb. 9 the following day, family and friends
became concerned and went to the area where he was last seen and found his
vehicle, a gray Jeep Cherokee, in a covered condo parking lot with the door
open and the radio still playing.

Forte’s sweatshirt and
cell phone were both reportedly wet and found in the car. The cell phone
battery was dead. In addition, Forte’s favorite black baseball cap was found on
the east side of the beach road near the access point to the beach.

Blizzard conditions on
the day following Forte’s disappearance hampered the initial search effort
somewhat, but when the weather cleared, a massive search of the area including
Fenwick Island, north Ocean City and areas north and west of Fenwick began in
earnest including a door-to-door search. Delaware law enforcement officials
along with hundreds of Forte’s family members and friends combed the area
searching for him or any evidence of his whereabouts.

The search and
investigation continued in the days and weeks following Forte’s disappearance
to no avail until skeletal remains were discovered washed up on the beach in
the south end of Ocean City. Shortly before 2 p.m. on April 28, Ocean City
police responded to the beach at North Division Street in reference to a
citizen’s report of the discovery of possible skeletal remains. Throughout that
Wednesday afternoon and into the next day, resort police canvassed the beach in
the area where the initial discovery was made and continued to find more
skeletal remains.

The recovered remains
were transported to the medical examiner’s office in Baltimore where it was
quickly determined the remains were indeed human. Last week, using DNA
evidence, the medical examiner’s office was able to confirm the remains
belonged to Forte, bringing some measure of closure to the months-long mystery,
however, just how Forte ended up in the ocean on that stormy night in February
might never be solved.

Funeral services for
Forte have been planned for Wednesday, June 9 at 11 a.m. at the St. Andrew’s
Catholic Center on 144th Street in Ocean City. In lieu of flowers,
family members are requesting monetary donations be made to a scholarship fund
set up in Forte’s name, the proceeds of which will be used to establish a
scholarship for Indian River High School graduates planning to play soccer in
college. Forte was an Indian River graduate and highly decorated soccer player
and later returned to teach and coach at his alma mater.

Donations for the scholarship
fund can be made to the Greg Forte Fund at the PNC Bank at 1107 Coastal
Highway, Fenwick Island, Del., 19944.