Dermot Kelly article

A reporter I’ve been in touch with recently has run a very good article on the disappearance of Dermot Kelly; he disappeared forty years ago yesterday, at the age of sixteen.

What I hadn’t known before I spoke to this reporter is that his disappearance may very well be a simple drowning accident or suicide. The Chicago Tribune piece I’d read about his disappearance, written two years after he vanished, said nothing about it, and even the NCMEC didn’t know. But they found Dermot’s shoes and jacket on the banks of a semi-frozen river, a set of bare footprints leading across the ice, and no returning set. And they found a rifle, probably his, under the ice. (If he did die there, I’d be inclined towards accident; if he wanted to kill himself why not use the rifle?)

However, it would be highly unusual for this body to NEVER be found, and Dermot’s parents later decided he’d staged his disappearance or something and ran away. He was declared legally dead in 1992, but in his mom’s obit last year he was listed as having survived her.

I doubt we will ever know what really happened here.

6 thoughts on “Dermot Kelly article

  1. Princess Shantae January 31, 2012 / 8:52 pm

    I guess it couldbe an accident, but what reason would he have to walk barefoot across the ice with his rifle? What reason would he have to walk barefoot across the ice even without his rifle?
    My guess he wanted to kill himself and make very sure his body never turned up.
    I guess he could of faked his death but there were no footprints going back to the shore, so where did he go from there?

    • Meaghan January 31, 2012 / 8:53 pm

      Hypothermia often causes people to start taking off their clothes, due to mental disorientation.

      Also, it’s possible that he walked backwards over his own footprints, or walked back across the ice where it wasn’t covered by snow, which would explain the lack of footprints. Just throwing ideas out there.

    • Joe February 2, 2012 / 1:48 pm

      I studied Dermont’s case for several years. It is known that 2-3 days before he left home, Dermot told his parents, “I intend to make a new life on my own and do it entirely on my own.” Previous information showed that there was conflict in the family and Dermot was very philosophical about things. IMO very helpful and caring, but frustrated by the turbulent conditions of the times and conflict in his family, and society.

      Sadly, I think Dermot’s warning quote above to his parents above could have been an “oral suicide note.” Not sure. But I think he either made up the target shooting story to distance himself from the family and really went out kill himself. OR he did go target shooting ,and the effects of hypothermia and Dermot’s fragile mental state caused him to start to take of his clothes, (a classic case of feeling overheated, due to hypothermia.) and skipped and or fell on ice in the river. I looked up the weather conditions that day, it was only about 12 above zero. Tragically within minutes, I think the effects of his mental state and hypothermia either caused a suicide or accidental drowning. Based on Dermot’s past history, sadly, I think this may have been a suicide intensified by the effects of hypothermia. I believe that he could NOT have just run away because:

      1.) He was not dressed for the bitter cold weather.
      2.) He had no food, clothing, or lodgings with him. All personal items left behind.
      3.) Nobody would pick him up getting on a bus or hitchhiking with a gun.
      4.) Why would you take off your clothes and expose yourself to freezing conditions just to run away?

      I also believe:

      1.) Dermot’s intelligence and troubles suggested that he may have been planning this for a very very long time. This was not a spur of the moment decision.

      2.) If he committed suicide, he wanted to do it at the river, so that his body would not be found. A flaw in the investigation says to me that the river was not investigated as thoroughly as it should have been.

      3.) The family withheld any mention of possible suicide and requested the media not to publish information relating to suicide to spare the horror and shock to Dermot’s brothers and sisters, and other relatives. Since Dermot’s case was, and remains today a missing person’s case-they were able to channel optimism through tragedy that Dermot may have run away. This gave the family hope. Hope that seemed to be courageously mentioned in his Mother’s obituary, listing Dermot as a survivor. His father, may have taken a more realistic assessment, after an exhaustive search for him after twenty years, by having Dermot declared legally dead.

      Whether this was a suicide or accidental drowning, we may never know. This gives new meaning to “heartbreaking.”

  2. amy February 1, 2012 / 9:43 am

    I remember years ago, when trying to make matches for UIDs against Dermot, being told that “there were aspects of his case that couldn’t be discussed for family reasons”. I am pretty sure, after reading your update, that family didn’t want to discuss suicide as a possible outcome. I can totally understand that-no answers, no closure, lots of questions. I had tried for several years to see if Dermot matched any of the Gacy UIDs, but that has gone nowhere.

    His case has always fascinated and saddened me.

    • Joe June 24, 2012 / 6:37 am

      I think about Dermot’s case very often. I believe that he was a very empathetic nurturing humanitarian. His father was very strict, hot-tempered, and I was told by someone could at times be abusive. Dermot was a very good to great student, street-wise, a great listener, but who’s beliefs were liberal, and evidence suggests they clashed with his strict father’s views.

      I believe his “Medical Treatment” was a form of conforming therapy. It is possible that Dermot revealed that he was gay, a very taboo subject in 1972. And in those days, parents with very strict belief systems and the money to support treatment would send their kids to “Conforming Therapy” to correct problem behavior through shock treatments. It was sort of a “straighten up and fly right” approach, and was extremely controversial. It is believed that a possibility exists that Dermot’s father, with the money and legal connections that he had, withheld ANY information about his son’s case that would put him in a “bad parent” light.

      Dermot’s :empathy may have been a sign of weakness to his ultra-strict father. Mr. Kelly was born in 1912 and served in World War II. He was about 60 years old when Dermot was a teenager when Dermot disappeared. I think Dermot reached a point where he could not take the conflict between the values demanded of him at home by his father, and the strict Catholic School, working against Dermot’s opposing views that wanted to search for a gentleness, a kindness, a longing for peace, love, and freedom. Qualities that I believe Dermot knew for a long time that he would never get at home.

      He left because he had no other choice. I get very emotional and at times moved to tears when I think about his case, and heartbreakingly believe that he likely died in the river, either through suicide, hypothermia, or a combination of both factors that day. I will remember and keep Dermot Kelly in my heart and mind for the rest of my life. I hope that wherever he is, he had finally found peace and love.

      Joe B.

  3. FaceBaseID-search September 26, 2021 / 7:33 pm

    I submitted a potential match this evening via Facebook Chat for LaSalle Sheriff re:
    Dermot Kelly.

    Unfortunately, it is a match to a John Doe.
    Info is being given to Investigators and I hope to hear back soon.

    FYI, the facial comparison from their sketch is uncanny! This may very well be him.

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