Tonawanda News — The fear in the Falls has apparently become so palpable, city police have now had to declare that they are not looking for a serial killer.
In response to rampant rumors and wild speculation on social media web sites, city detectives issued a statement late Monday afternoon that said there is no need to be on the look-out for a crazed murderer.
“It has been brought to our attention, from several sources, that there are a number of rumors regarding the Loretta Gates death and investigation,” the statement read. “There is no evidence to suggest a serial killer. This investigation is not similar to any other deaths we are aware of at this time.”
Police sources said the rumors began to spread after the discovery of human remains in a garbage bag in Hyde Park Lake late Sunday morning.
“All we are currently stating about what occurred at Hyde Park Lake on Sunday is that human remains were located in the water,” the police statement said. “We were able to confirm these remains belong to Loretta. We are not going to be any more specific.”
Just before noon Sunday, patrol officers responded to Duck Island, in Hyde Park, were a passer-by had noticed a bag floating in the lake and pulled it to shore. Inside the bag were human remains.
Sources close the case have indicated that Gates’ head and an arm were inside the bag.
Authorities in Niagara Falls, Ont. believe that an arm and leg that were recovered in the whirlpool rapids on Friday afternoon also came from Gates’ body. Those remains were spotted by a fisherman and retrieved by Niagara Regional Police.
A source with knowledge of the case tells the Gazette the discovery of body parts in the Falls likely means that Gates was murdered in the city and that the dismembered parts of her body were then disposed of at various locations.
Authorities confirmed on Friday that DNA testing showed that the torso of a woman, found floating in the lower Niagara River on Aug. 29, was the missing Falls mother of three. Just after noon Friday, investigators were notified that a DNA sample from Gates matched DNA recovered by Canadian law enforcement agencies from the torso.
At that time, investigators said they were trying to determine where Gates may have been killed. They said that locating a “crime scene” might yield key forensic evidence that would assist in the investigation.
“We don’t know where she died, we’re looking for a crime scene because hopefully there will be some evidence there,’ the source said.
Gates, 30, was last seen alive on Aug. 25. when she left her home to go to a convenience store across the street.
Because her torso was recovered in Canadian waters, law enforcement agencies in that country have also be involved in the case.
Canadian authorities have classified the discovery of the headless, limbless torso as a homicide. They have said the body was “dismembered” and the loss of the head and limbs was not linked to having been in the rocky waters of the lower Niagara River.
The Monday statement from Falls police said, “We are not scheduling another press conference in the near future until an arrest is made or we have significant new developments that we would like to make public.”
Investigators involved in the case told the Gazette they are hoping someone might have knowledge of what happened to Gates and will contact them.
Anyone with information is asked to call Criminal Investigation Division detectives at 716-286-4553 or 716-286-4711.