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Death still under investigation – Skeletal remains identified as Haverhill man who was reported missing in Saugus last summer

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John Lawler planned to go fishing on July 14, 2023 – the last day he was seen alive – according to investigators who looked into his disappearance. The missing person search remained open until last weekend when skeletal remains of the missing 53-year-old Haverhill man were discovered in the woods off David Drive in Saugus by a dog walker. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) later made a positive identification.

Essex County District Attorney Paul F. Tucker and Saugus Police Chief Michael Ricciardelli announced on Monday that a criminal investigation continues, pending a final determination by the OCME as to the cause of death.

“I wasn’t ready for this and half of me was hoping He just took off and that he needed a break from the world but that’s not the case,” Joshua Deveau posted on a GoFundMe page he set up for his dad.

“I spent a lot of time Searching for my father in them woods, and I probably walked right by him multiple times and I still can’t believe I didn’t find him,” said Deveau. “But to be honest, I know my father, and he wouldn’t want me to find him that way so he didn’t let me find him at least That’s the way I’m looking at it…”

Lawler was a resident of The Salvation Army rehabilitation center in Saugus.

Police determined that Lawler had withdrawn $5,000 from a bank and deposited money into another bank before withdrawing $40 on the day he was last seen. He used his debit card that day, but it hasn’t been used since.

“Lawler left his home with his fishing rod. All of his belongings including his cell phone were left behind,” according to an entry in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

“Lawler was physically fit, oftentimes riding his bicycle and working out at the local gym. He was last seen walking toward Route 1 carrying his fishing pole.”

Vanished Voices, a missing persons advocacy group, noted that Lawler had visited a Walmart Supercenter in Saugus to buy fishing equipment and fishing supplies in the afternoon of last July 14.

Joshua Deveau, of Danville, N.H., appealed for help in paying for his father’s funeral expenses on the GoFundMe Page. Anyone wishing to contribute can donate by going on https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-pay-for-my-dads-john-lawler-funeral.


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