on May 1, 2013 - 3:10 PM
, updated May 2, 2013 at 12:16 AM
LITTLE VALLEY – After more than five years and more than 400 leads, investigators in the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office are still looking for answers in the death of Salamanca resident Traci Douglass.
Wednesday, they issued a new appeal for the public’s help.
The prospects for solving the case were low at the outset, according to Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb, but, with advances in investigation and examination of leads, that has changed.
Douglass’ remains, discovered by a fisherman along the west shore of the Allegany Reservoir in September 2009, have been analyzed, and DNA has been taken. Douglass, a native of Maryland, was last seen around January 2007.
The remains were not identified until February 2012.
Now, progress in the case is dependent on help from the community, Whitcomb said Wednesday.
“Some of the leads that have matriculated into this office have come in through other agencies,” he said. “I want to make clear that the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office is the lead agency in this death investigation. All leads should be coming in through one source here at the Sheriff’s Office.”
One of the problems investigators have encountered is missing call-back information when tips come in from other agencies, he said. For the investigators to do their job, they need to get in touch with the people who provided the tips.
Progress has been made, but some of the current roadblocks Investigators John Ensell and Joe Magiera have encountered could be removed if they were able to talk to those who have come forward, the sheriff said.
Whitcomb said investigators also want to hear from people who know something and still have not come forward.
“The investigation, at this point, leads us to believe that there are people in the public that have information that will assist us in closing this investigation,” he said. “For whatever reason, some people seem to be reluctant or scared. I want to make a very clear point. If you have info on Ms. Douglass’ death, and you have chosen, for whatever reason, to not come forward to law enforcement, I would ask you to reconsider your decision. You are in a position to come forward and be part of a solution and assist us in answering questions, or you are in a position to be part of the problem.”
He added, “There are people here in the community of Cattaraugus County, specifically Salamanca, that have information that can help us answer questions surrounding her death, specifically why we found her where we did,” he continued. “We need those people to re-examine their moral compass and come forward.”
Those with information are asked to contact Joe Magiera by calling (716) 938-2205, texting (716) 498-3245 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; or contact John Ensell by calling (716) 938-2261, texting (716) 597-4298 or emailing email@example.com.