UPDATE: Missing Bath Beach grandmother found dead
In a heartbreaking ending to a sad situation, a missing Bath Beach woman whose disappearance led to a massive search effort by members of her church was found dead Tuesday, eight days after she mysteriously vanished.
The body of a woman fitting Mary Joyce Bonsignore’s description was discovered on the rooftop of an apartment building on 19th Avenue near Cropsey Avenue, not far from her home, authorities said.
Bonsignore, 88, suffered from dementia, authorizes said. She wandered away from her home on 19th Avenue between Bath and Cropsey avenues on the morning of July 17, according to police.
The city medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine how Bonsignore died. Her death does not appear to be suspicious, police said.
Bonsignore, described by her friends as a devout Catholic, was a parishioner of St. Finbar Roman Catholic Church. The church is located at 138 Bay 20th St., a few blocks from her home. She attended Mass regularly, her fellow parishioners said.
On July 23, the Rev. Michael Louis Gelfant, the church’s pastor, announced that he was organizing a search party and asked for volunteers. “She belongs to us. She’s our parishioner. She’s our neighbor. We have a duty to find her,” Gelfant told parishioners at the 9 a.m. Mass that morning. More than 120 people showed up at the parish center that afternoon to help look for Bonsignore.
Armed with flyers, the volunteers visited several areas of Bath Beach, Bensonhurst and Bay Ridge looking for any sign of her.
On Tuesday, Gelfant posted a statement from St. Finbar Church on his Facebook page expressing sorrow at the tragic turn of events.
“Mary was a faith filled woman and she will be missed. May the angels lead her to paradise,” the statement read.
Councilmember Mark Treyger (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) said he was sad to hear the tragic news. He also praised the all-out effort to search for Bonsignore. “Fr. Gelfant, the St. Finbar parish, 62nd Pct., CERT [Community Emergency Response Team], local media and all of the volunteers who helped search for her deserve our thanks for their sustained and heartfelt search effort,” he said in a statement.
CERT, a group of volunteers who work with the New York City Office of Emergency Management, assisted the search effort.
One St. Finbar parishioner, who asked that her name not be published, said she couldn’t figure out how Bonsignore got to the roof of the building where her body was eventually found. “I can understand her wandering into the apartment house. She had dementia. But I don’t understand how she got all the way up to the roof without anybody seeing her,” the woman said.
Bonsignore was a wife, mother and grandmother.
Following her disappearance, “Missing Person” posters were taped to lampposts and store windows all over Southwest Brooklyn.