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Dead body found along Mass. highway is missing Marine recruit, officials say

Joseph Brancato.

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By SEAN PHILIP COTTER | The Patriot Ledger (Tribune News Service) | Published: March 31, 2018

CANTON, Mass. — The dead body found near the side of the highway in Canton on Wednesday has been identified as a Marine recruit who has been missing since November.

Joseph Brancato, 21, who last lived in Boston's Roslindale neighborhood, was found by someone who had pulled over on the side of Interstate 95 just south of the Interstate 93 interchange Wednesday afternoon, according to the office of Norfolk County District Attorney Michael Morrissey.

Boston Police have been investigating his disappearance of the North Shore native for the past several months.

The body was found shortly before 3 p.m., and was taken to the Office of the Medical Examiner a few hours later. The autopsy, performed Thursday, did not establish either a cause or manner of death, the district attorney's office said. Authorities will undertake further tests on the remains to try to determine how and why he died.

WCVB-TV Channel 5, a media partner of The Patriot Ledger, reported that Brancato, 21, was last seen in November near an apartment in Roslindale, where he had moved in with his recruiter.

Boston police homicide detectives are handling Brancato's case and have received assistance from the Naval Criminal Invetigative Service, WCVB said.

In December, NCIS conducted a search of the Marine recruiting office in Roslindale and sealed the door and door knob with evidence tape. Boston police and NCIS also searched an area near Turtle Pond in Hyde Park in January in connection with Brancato's disappearance.

On Monday, prosecutors publicly called former Marine recruiter Frank Lipka a "person of interest" in Brancato's disappearance.

Lipka is currently being held on charges in an unrelated case.

He is charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and unlawful possession of ammunition. Prosecutors said Lipka threatened a pizza delivery person in September 2017.

Police learned about the incident while interviewing people about Brancato's disappearance.

Lipka recently returned to Massachusetts from South Carolina, where he was held in a military prison for absence without authorization and an alleged altercation with two Marines in his unit.

Lipka is also accused of drunken driving in a Jan. 27 crash on the Jamaicaway in Boston. Police said Lipka crashed his Chevy Corvette and then attempted to flee the scene.

State Police, Boston police and Morrissey's office continue to investigate.

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Material from WCVB-TV Channel 5 was used in this story.
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