Officials determine cause in missing UC graduate's death in New York City

Manner of death still unknown

CINCINNATI – Authorities say they know what caused the death of a missing University of Cincinnati student found floating in waters in New York City last month.

The NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reports James Ott drowned. However, in the autopsy completed this week, officials were unable to determine the manner of Ott’s death or the exact date it happened.

The former standout UC fashion student went missing from his New York City apartment in March. His body was found floating off 58th Street in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn at about 11 a.m. on May 8.

Ott, 31, worked for major fashion houses in New York City, including The Row and J. Mendel. According to the New York Times , he began working as a design director for Los Angeles-based fashion company the Dock Group in 2013.

Jay Ott

Ott's co-workers, who knew him as Jay, said they realized something was wrong when he didn’t show up to work Monday, March 24.

“When we go into work, the first person that gets to work texts the other people, and asks, ‘What do you want for breakfast?’ or ‘Do you want coffee?’" Beatrice Kim told the New York Times in April. “Jay never responded.”

Those close to Ott said it was like he disappeared into thin air when he went missing on Saturday, March 22.

Ott spent that Saturday at a friend’s birthday party in Brooklyn, according to the New York Times.

Footage from a security camera the following day showed him leaving his apartment building at 4 a.m.

Sources said Ott suffered from emotional problems, but was “in a good place” the day before he vanished, according to the New York Post.

"My heart just sunk," said Ann Firestone of UC's fashion department. "Jay and I go back a long way."

Firestone said she met Ott during his first year out of high school.

"You knew Jay was a strong and driving force from the moment he walked into our department," she said.

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