28-year-old N.E. Ohio cold case has ties to metro Detroit

Authorities became a step closer to solving a nearly three-decade-old cold case involving a man believed to be from metro Detroit when his body was identified earlier this year.

Now officials in Ohio are searching for anyone who knew Terrence Patrick Brennan, whose body washed up on the shore of Lake Erie in Lorain in 1989.

Police said his last known address was on Sobieski Street in Hamtramck.

“He lived in the Detroit area at one time,” said Detective John Dougherty with the Lorain Police Department. “Hopefully, someone around there might remember him.”

Advances in technology helped the FBI identify 36-year-old Brennan using fingerprints, which matched those taken during an arrest in Illinois in 1971, authorities said.  

Tom Aftanas, chief of police in Forest Park,  where the arrest occurred, said they don't have a photo of Brennan. Records found on an index card show Brennan was arrested for criminal damage to property, theft and possession of burglary tools, but there is no information on how the case ended, he said.

Brennan had on a Western-style shirt, blue jeans and one cowboy boot when his body was discovered on April 3, 1989.

Mark Uminski said a man with the same name as Brennan lived two doors down from him in Hamtramck and was nicknamed “Cowboy” because of how he dressed.

Brennan always wore a cowboy hat and cowboy boots, Uminski recalled Friday.

The two neighbors were both into raising saltwater fish, and Brennan gave Uminski a 50-gallon tank when he moved out, Uminski told the Free Press.

“Cowboy was a nice guy,” he said, adding he lost track of Brennan when he left the neighborhood decades ago.

Police said Brennan's death was ruled an accidental drowning.  It’s unknown how Brennan got into Lake Erie 28 years ago.

“It’s not completely clear he went in near us,” said Dr. Frank Miller, chief deputy coroner with the Lorain County Coroner’s Office. “But he surfaced in the lake near us.”

Miller said he knows of a case in which a person went into the Detroit River years ago and ended up in the Cleveland jurisdiction. That is about 30 miles east of Lorain.

Brennan's case had been in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System for years. Late last year, Miller requested that the FBI help identify the body, and he learned about the match in May.

Brennan's body has been cremated and is in a cemetery in Lorain County, Miller said.

“We’re hoping someone knows him or can point us to his next of kin,” he said.

Anyone with information on family members of Terrence Patrick Brennan is asked to contact Detective John Dougherty with the Lorain Police Department at 440-204-2105.

Contact Elisha Anderson: eanderson@freepress.com or 313-222-5144.

The Detroit Free Press


JOIN THE CONVERSATION

To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment