Barry Cowsill, as one grieving family member put it, is "safe."
The months-long search for the missing musician, who achieved teen idol status in the late 1960s as a member of the Partridge Family-inspiring pop act the Cowsills, ended Wednesday with a call from morgue officials in New Orleans.
"Barry Steven Cowsill is no longer with us," his brother Richard Cowsill wrote in announcing the news Wednesday night on Cowsill.com. "We truly [know] that he is already in the arms of our mother Barbara. He is safe."
Cowsill's skeletal remains were found in a face down position under a wharf in storm-ravaged New Orleans on Dec. 28, another brother, Bob Cowsill, said Friday.
A total of 1,100 bodies have been recovered in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina swamped the city on Aug. 29, the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals announced Wednesday.
It was not known how or when Cowsill died, Bob Cowsill said, adding that the skeletal remains suggest to the family that he perished in the immediate aftermath of Katrina.
Cowsill, who'd moved to New Orleans only months before Katrina, was last definitively heard from in a voice message left on his sister Susan's cell phone, and retrieved shortly after the hurricane hit. In it, he said he'd seen looting, and asked for help.
"I don't know how he reacted to the situation he got himself in," Bob Cowsill said. "Of all of us, he was probably the least mentally equipped to handle [it]."
Cowsill, who would have turned 51 on Sept. 14, was due to fly to Los Angeles on Aug. 29 to check himself into rehab for alcohol abuse. Bob Cowsill said he'd worked hard to convince his younger brother to agree to the flight--and the treatment plan.
"He was so close to getting it together, and, gee whiz, this dumb hurricane just got in the way," Bob Cowsill said. "It's just amazing to me."
Barry and Bob Cowsill weren't just brothers; they were bandmates, too. At the height of their career, the Cowsills consisted of siblings Barry, Bob, Billy, John, Paul, Susan and their mother Barbara. Barry Cowsill was the bassist. The group's harmonizing hits included "Hair" and "The Rain, the Park and Other Things."
The Cowsills served as fodder for the 1970-74 sitcom The Partridge Family, about a six-member family band--three brothers, two sisters, one mom.
Barbara Cowsill died in 1985.
With Barry Cowsill's death confirmed, and the four-month-long mystery surrounding his whereabouts solved, Bob Cowsill said the coping process begins anew.
"It's awful again because you're dealing with fact," Bob Cowsill said. "As long as you didn't hear, you could create other scenarios that were possible also."