Schenectady County

Schenectady to provide answers about discovery of body

The results of an inquiry into how the body of a resident of a burned out McClellan Street buildi


The results of an inquiry into how the body of a resident of a burned out McClellan Street building wasn’t discovered for three weeks are expected to be revealed this afternoon, Public Safety Commissioner Wayne Bennett said.

Prior to the press conference, Bennett said he would also direct a city police detective on the case to speak with the family of Patrick Sheehan and share the results of the inquiry directly.

“We have the answers and we will be giving them out,” Bennett said.

Asked whether those answers include anything that rose to the level of disciplinary action against anyone or policy changes, Bennett said he would address that at the press conference.

Bennett, who oversees both the police and fire departments, began gathering information on the case Monday after returning from vacation. The investigation was slowed, he said, because of another fire Monday morning that made some of those he wanted to speak with not immediately available.

As to how Sheehan could have been missed, Bennett said Monday that firefighters were told that everyone had escaped the blaze. They relied on one individual who should have been reliable, he said.

More on that process was expected at this afternoon’s press conference.

Sheehan’s brother, Frank Sheehan, said Monday he hadn’t gotten an explanation on why it took so long to find his brother. Asked about that, Bennett said he would ensure the family is called prior to today’s press conference.

Aside from the questions about how long it took to discover Sheehan, police are focusing on the fire itself. The fire has been called suspicions and, with Sheehan’s death, the investigation is being treated as a homicide investigation.

Among the other questions Bennett said he was trying to answer was how exactly the city was informed that Sheehan was missing. Two of Sheehan’s brothers went to the police department on Christmas Day after they went to his apartment and discovered the burned out building.

Bennett said Monday they talked to a police officer, someone in the building near the desk, but no formal missing persons report was filed. Bennett was working Monday to find out which officer handled that meeting.

Sheehan’s body was discovered Friday as work crews demolished the building at 902 McClellan St. The building was damaged beyond repair in the Dec. 10 fire and the city’s engineer determined the building was at risk of collapsing. It was ordered torn down as soon as possible.

One resident faces a drug charge that came following the blaze, accused of possessing cocaine at the police station as police questioned her after the fire. She escaped uninjured.

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