Cause of death still unknown for man found in Isle of Wight stormwater pond

Published 1:54 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Suffolk Police have confirmed the identity – but not a cause of death – of a Newport News man whose body was found floating in an Isle of Wight County stormwater pond in January.

According to city spokeswoman Jennifer Moore, police have positively identified the deceased as 69-year-old Robert Bailey, who was last seen in Suffolk on New Year’s Eve.

Bailey’s family, according to a Jan. 12 Suffolk news release, had reported him missing on Jan. 2, two days after watching him leave the home of a relative in Suffolk’s Chuckatuck community, which borders Isle of Wight. 

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The state medical examiner’s office has not released its autopsy report, Moore said. The pending report could shed light on why Bailey’s pickup truck ended up at the bottom of a Carrollton pond next to an in-progress housing development.

He’d been driving a light blue 1998 Dodge Ram. On Jan. 20, Virginia State Police and a towing company pulled the sediment-caked truck from the pond.

State Police spokeswoman Sgt. Michelle Anaya, who was on the scene that day, told The Smithfield Times that the vehicle had likely been at the bottom of the pond for “a while,” but couldn’t give a more specific timeframe. Bailey’s obituary lists Jan. 20 as his date of death.

According to Suffolk’s Jan. 12 news release, Bailey had no known medical conditions and had told relatives he was returning home when he left their Chuckatuck home.

The pond, roughly 7.3 miles from Chuckatuck and roughly halfway between Suffolk and Newport News, is part of The Crossings condominium development, which broke ground in 2021 and is still under construction.

Moore said she was uncertain whether police had reason to believe the cause of death was suspicious.

Bailey’s obituary states he was born Nov. 20, 1953, in Suffolk’s Whaleyville community. He was an Army Vietnam veteran, handyman and avid vegetable gardener who would work in his yard from sunrise to sunset.