Police Find a Body Near Home of the Missing Photographer Peter Beard

Police Find a Body Near Home of the Missing Photographer Peter Beard

A body that fits the description of Peter Beard, the wildlife photographer who combined documentary images of Africa with drawings and diaristic text detailing his adventurous life, was found on Sunday afternoon, 19 days after he disappeared from his ocean bluff property in Montauk, on Long Island’s East End.

According to a statement by the East Hampton Town Police on Sunday, “the remains of an elderly male consistent with the physical and clothing description of Mr. Beard was located in a densely wooded area.” The body was found in Camp Hero State Park in Montauk and is awaiting identification by the Suffolk County Medical Examiner, police said.

Christine Heenan, a spokesperson for the Beard family, confirmed that the police had alerted them that a body fitting Mr. Beard’s description was discovered.

Mr. Beard, 82, had dementia and had experienced at least one stroke. He was last seen outdoors on his property by his wife, Nejma Khanum Beard, on March 31 around 4:40 p.m. A hunter spotted some clothing in a densely wooded area around one mile from the Beard home and alerted the police, Ms. Heenan said.

The search for Mr. Beard was extensive, involving helicopters, drones, dogs and more than 75 police and fire officials as well as relatives, friends and neighbors, who combed the area, much of it densely wooded and thick with briers, in and around the artist’s six-acre compound, said John Claflin, a lieutenant in the Montauk precinct of the East Hampton Police Department.

The property, where Mr. Beard lived with his wife, features a series of cottages, including Mr. Beard’s studio. It has sweeping ocean views and is adjacent to the 754-acre Camp Hero State Park on Montauk Point. It wasn’t his habit to carry a phone or a wallet.

Danger was seductive to Mr. Beard, who roped rhinoceroses, and was once trampled by an elephant and welcomed creative accidents if they inspired a sense of beauty or doom.

When Mr. Fahey heard Mr. Beard had gone missing, he said, “I’m not shocked.”

He added, “I thought, ‘He’s out experiencing something; it could be death.’”

Jim Rutenberg contributed reporting.


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