Sheriff offers update on Portland finds

OBSERVER Photo by M.J. Stafford First responders are pictured last year on Woleben Road in the town of Portland. The remains of two women were discovered, one of whom was identified as being a missing Buffalo woman.

It’s been almost four months since the remains of two women were found in a wooded area near a popular hiking trail in the town of Portland.

An analysis determined the identity of one of the two women as 50-year-old Marquita Mull, whose body was found Sept. 27 in some thick brush off Woleben Road. A Buffalo resident, Mull had been reported missing by her family months earlier.

The first set of remains found, though, have yet to be identified. In an interview this week, Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone provided an update on both investigations, the homicide of Mull and efforts to identify the other remains.

OBSERVER: What’s the update on the discovery of Mull?

Quattrone: “We’re working closely with Buffalo (Police Department), sharing information. We’ve actually transferred all the physical evidence to the Buffalo Police Department. They are also working with the Erie County Forensic Police Lab. They are going through the evidence there and still interviewing potential suspects and potential witnesses. We’re really not much further with that case at this point.”

OBSERVER: Are authorities in Erie County handling the primary investigation?

Quattrone: “Only because we believe that she likely disappeared from there and that’s likely where any suspects are residing. We don’t have any other indication of that other than that’s where she was residing. So, they’ve been following up on leads. Again, our investigators and their investigators are in regular contact and sharing information. At different times, our investigators have gone out and worked with them and vice versa, they’ve come down here and worked with us. It’s been a very collaborative investigation.”

OBSERVER: Has an official cause of death been determined?

Quattrone: “Not that I’m aware of. The Erie County Forensic Lab is analyzing different items now, and I’m not sure if they ruled a cause.”

OBSERVER: What would you say to the Mull family regarding the investigation?

Quattrone: “To the Mull family, we are continuing to put forth a strong effort working alongside the Buffalo Police Department. The family has been very helpful in sharing any information that they get, and we’re very appreciative of that. Just coming to the holidays, it must have been a difficult time for them.”

OBSERVER: What’s the update on the first set of remains found?

Quattrone: “We are still working with as many agencies as possible, including Buffalo … as well as some of our national organizations trying to get any evidence we can. We have a list of potential missing people from this area. When I say this area, not just Chautauqua County, but Troop A (an area used by the New York State Police designating different parts of the state. Troop A includes all of Western New York). Some (missing person cases) we’ve been able to rule out through dental examinations. Others, we are still waiting for DNA analysis from both the New York State Police crime lab as well as the FBI in Quantico (in Virginia). We’re anticipating any time to receive some information from the New York state lab, and we’re still a few months away from what was initially reported.”

OBSERVER: Has Patricia Laemmerhirt been ruled out as a possible match? (Laemmerhirt, a resident of Westfield and whose home was about 6 miles from where the bodies were found, went missing in April 1976).

Quattrone: “The Westfield woman we still have not been able to rule that one out. That’s still on the radar. We’re still trying to find some dental records for (Laemmerhirt). We haven’t been able to locate any of her dental records.”

OBSERVER: What would you say to families that may be waiting to hear if the remains may be of their loved ones?

Quattrone: “We would love to be able to give them some closure to this. … We’re continuing to work hard on it, trying to investigate every possible lead that we have and that we’ve received. But to this point we still haven’t had anything that could follow up and make any arrest or come up with a confirmation of cause of death.”


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