SOUTH VALLEY - Human remains found in the Allegheny Reservoir this past weekend have been sent to the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo as speculation about the person's identity runs rampant throughout the region.
Around 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, Cattaraugus County Sheriff's deputies were called to the reservoir after a man fishing discovered the skeletal remains in the mud along the shore. The water in the reservoir had recently been lowered for the season and that may have been the trigger that exposed the remains.
Acting Sheriff Tim Whitcomb said currently there are no open missing person cases in Cattaraugus County, and that the department has a "real mystery" on its hands.
"We weren't able to throughly process the scene Saturday because of rain and the limited amount of sunlight we had," he said. "But that's exactly what we did Sunday until the sun went down."
He said that a number of items had been recovered from the area and treated as evidence, although he wouldn't discuss any specifics.
Whitcomb said that visual identification of the remains was impossible since the body was in an "advanced stage of decomposition."
"Mother Nature and the animals had spread it about, but we collected everything we could find," he said. "After ECMC, the remains will be going to a forensic anthropologist where full medical exams will be performed."
Medical information pertinent to several open missing persons cases in the area has been made available to either identify the person or rule out a possibility.
The family of Corrie Anderson, the Busti mother who has been missing for almost a year, was able to get her dental records, although sources said it took a court order to do so because of the dentist's concern for HIPAA laws.
Corrie was last seen at about 1:10 p.m. on Oct. 28, 2008, when she visited her boyfriend at the Lake County Dodge dealership on Washington Street in Jamestown. Her mother reported her missing about 3:45 p.m. that day when Corrie failed to show up at her son's school for a meeting.
Her keys, black purse and a pair of small wire-rimmed glasses are still missing along with the truth about what happened to the mother of three.
Sgt. Investigator Paul Gustafson with the Lakewood-Busti Police Department said he has been in contact with Cattaraugus County investigators and is also providing forensic information about missing Lakewood resident Lori Ceci-Bova.
Lori was last seen leaving the Red Lobster restaurant in Lakewood with her husband Tyrone, her sister and brother-in-law on June 7, 1997. He husband reported that they went home together and had some type of argument later that evening, and around 2 a.m., she went for a walk and never returned.
Nine hours later, around 11:14 a.m. the next morning, Tyrone contacted the police and Lori's family began searching for her. She was only 26 at the time of her disappearance.
Another missing person's case that people have been discussing since Saturday's discovery is that of Damien Sharp.
Sharp was last seen in Warren on Memorial Day weekend in 2002 when he was reportedly dropped off at a party on May 25. He was 22 years old at the time and his family reported his disappearance on June 3. Since then, police have searched areas of the Allegheny Reservoir, the Allegheny National Forest and Morrison Run.
Sharp was last seen carrying a black backpack and was using aluminum crutches at the time of his disappearance. He was wearing a dark shirt and dark shorts. He is described as blond with hazel-blue eyes, 5-foot, 7-inches tall, 170 pounds, and has an Egyptian Ankh symbol tattooed on his chest.
Whitcomb said that currently, there is nothing leading investigators to believe the body relates to any specific case, but he also said that they aren't ruling anything out. It will also be up to the forensic experts to determine the gender of the deceased, which will rule out a possibility or two.
"There was nothing at the scene to indicate foul play, but the situation is certainly unusual," he said. "I would love to have some information back from the experts in a week or two, but it could take longer depending on their caseload. Right now, this is specifically a Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Department investigation but if information comes up that connects it to any other open case, we would open it up to the investigating agency without hesitation."
Anyone with information about the discovery is asked to call the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Department at 983-9191.