FBI Working On DNA Profile To Identify Portland Remains

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PORTLAND – The FBI is now working to help the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office identify a body that was discovered in the north county last fall.

Sheriff Jim Quattrone, in an interview with WNY News Now on Tuesday, explained that the federal resources should provide a boost to his investigation into the set of human remains that were found in September along the “rails to trail” path near Woleben Road in the Town of Portland.

“The first set of remains that had been there in a shallow grave for an extended period of time, at least a decade, if not several decades. We have sent parts of those remains to the State Police Lab in Albany, as well as some to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia,” says Quattrone. “And we are still waiting for a DNA profile so we can follow up on that. Hopefully once we get that profile, we’ll be able to make an identification, which would help the investigation of that case.”

The Sheriff says that the DNA profile will likely take four months to create. At this point, he is confident that, according to analysis from the Mercyhurst Forensic Anthropology Department, the body is female, likely causasian, and around 5‘5 or 5’7.

Over time her remains, he goes on to say, likely became more exposed due to the elements, which is how a hiker found them buried in a shallow grave.

After combing the wooded area, investigators at the time found another body, since identified as 50-year-old Marquita Mull from Buffalo.

“We are continuing working hand in hand with the Buffalo Police Department and many local agencies as well as neighboring counties agencies in Pennsylvania. With any missing persons cases, we will continue to do that,” said Quattrone. “We believe it’s important that we all work together. We’ve had several potential leads out of Erie County. Missing persons cases out of Erie County that would match.”

Though there is no definitive evidence, the Sheriff believes there is a possibility that the two sets of remains are connected, given their close proximity to each other, just ten yards apart.

Quattrone and the County District Attorney are working to launch a special unsolved case division, to take a closer look at the open cases in the county like this one.

“We’re meeting with the District Attorney’s Office to hopefully get a finalization on what an unsolved case squad might look like,” explains Quattrone. “We have a couple retired officers, actually from the west coast but both live in close proximity to the Sheriff’s Office, who have had experience with cold cases and unsolved cases and homicide divisions. We hopefully will be able to bring them in to work alongside some of our investigators and some retired investigators.”

The Sheriff is hopeful that with a good amount of work, this team can bring closure to the victims’ families, a point he highlighted as his top priority.


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