WILDWOOD — An autopsy revealed Tuesday that a body found off Wildwood’s coast was that of missing Middle Township police Officer Jason Sill.
The identification was made Tuesday afternoon by the Southern Regional Medical Examiner’s Office and announced by the New Jersey State Police.
Authorities, however, did not disclose the cause and manner of death pending further examination, including toxicology reports. State Police Sgt. Brian Polite said they could take as long as eight weeks.
“It’s not something we’re going to rush. We’re going to make sure it’s done right,” Polite said.
Sill, 39, of Cape May Court House, had been missing since the morning of Aug. 27 when he went fishing on his 23-foot boat by himself. Witnesses reported seeing Sill leave the Pier 47 Marina in Middle Township at 9:30 that morning after telling people he was going to fish in the backbays.
Sill, a 1992 graduate of Middle Township High School, was an avid outdoorsman who loved fishing, camping and boating, according to his obituary.
His empty boat was found at about 10:45 p.m. one mile offshore with the keys in the ignition, the throttle in forward and two fishing poles still on deck. A massive search began at that point that included the State Police, U.S. Coast Guard, Middle Township and Avalon police, beach patrols from several towns on Five Mile Beach, and even private boaters.
“The search has ended. Jason Still is coming home, though certainly not as we had hoped,” Mayor Dan Lockwood said.
Sill’s body was seen about six nautical miles off the coast of Wildwood by a boater at about 3 p.m. Sunday and retrieved by the Coast Guard. An autopsy was done Tuesday afternoon at Shore Memorial Hospital in Somers Point.
A tattoo on the body matched one reported to be on Sill, and authorities said the condition of the body was consistent with a “deceased person being exposed to water for a prolonged period of time.” No details on the possible cause of death were released.
Township officials praised Sill’s career and said their thoughts were with his wife and family.
Middle Township police Chief Chris Leusner said Sill, a decorated 13-year department veteran who helped save the lives of several residents, will be greatly missed. Leusner said it is a loss for the Sill family and the Police Department, but also for the entire community. He said Sill in his short time had an effect on many people.
“Jason made a choice to serve others, and he made a positive impact on his community. Jason stood ready to protect others and never failed to rise up to the immediate challenge facing him to save another person,” Leusner said.
On behalf of Township Committee and residents, Mayor Lockwood offered “heartfelt condolences” to Sill’s widow, Madonna, who works as a police dispatcher, and his daughter, Alexis, his parents, Patricia and Charles Sill, and the rest of the Sill family.
“Middle Township has lost an exemplary police officer, and Jason’s family and friends have lost much more than words can ever say,” Lockwood said.
Funeral services are set for 11 a.m. Friday at Radzieta Funeral Home, 9 Hand Ave., in Cape May Court House. Visitation will run from 9 to 11 a.m. Burial will be at Union Cemetery.
“We’re going to honor him. This was not a line of duty death, but he is one of our guys, and we’re going to honor him,” Leusner said.
Lockwood asked residents to keep the Sill family in their thoughts and prayers “as we move through the difficult days ahead.”
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