PROVIDENCE—Fiske Cahill, the son of prominent Attleboro resident James Cahill and his late wife, Edith, has been missing for six weeks. Cahill, a senior at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), was last seen leaving his painting studio at 3:00 AM on April 15. According to other students, Cahill frequently worked at night when he was least likely to run into his peers. “He’s an odd guy,” says RISD junior Arthur Zane. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard him speak. He just darts around campus with his head down, not looking at anyone.” Because of Cahill’s strange behavior, no one noticed his disappearance until May 1, when he failed to turn in his final project. RISD administrators contacted the police, who launched a search for the 21-year-old.
Detective Larry Higgins is not optimistic about finding Cahill: “Nothing was missing from his room, so we don’t think this is a runaway case. Chances are, the Cahill kid ran into the wrong people at the wrong time. We’re doing our best to find him, though, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Cahill has led a life of both privilege and strife. He was born into a wealthy family, but his mother died shortly after his birth and his father spent a great deal of time traveling. According to sources close to the family, Cahill was essentially raised by his sister, Grace, 12 years his elder. “Fiske wasn’t close to his father,” one family friend says. “Whenever James was in town, he hosted these huge parties for all his international friends. He insisted that the children mingle with the guests, which terrified Fiske because he was shy. He hated having to talk to strangers all the time.”
Another source, who asked not to be named, explains that Fiske felt he was a disappointment to his father. “James was always taking the two younger kids on these crazy outings: rock climbing, ocean kayaking, etc. Grace excelled at these activities but Fiske was just scared. I think it frustrated James. He seemed to want his kids to be adventurers. All Fiske wanted to do was read and paint.”
Sadly, Cahill never seemed to come into his own, even after he started art school. His adviser, Renee Williams, says she found Cahill hard to talk to: “He wouldn’t look people in the eye and he often mumbled his answers. I’ve never met anyone so shy in my life. It was really sad, actually, because he’s such a talented artist. But there’s only so far you can go without talking to people.”
Anyone with information about Fiske Cahill is asked to contact the Providence police.