How Social Media Assists In Solving Chautauqua County Cold Cases

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JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) — After a case exhausts all possible avenues of investigation, sometimes it runs cold. Unfortunately, these cold cases can sit unsolved for many years. However, thanks to social media, some of these cases are being looked at with fresh eyes which could potentially lead to cracking the case.

Investigators behind Chautauqua Unsolved hope to harness the power of social media to help bring closure to several cold cases, including the death of Jamestown teen Patty Fairbanks.

“Patty was 14 years old. On November 28th 1972 she went to the store for her mother. The pharmacy in Jamestown, close to a house on West 9th. She came back and said she was 15 cents short so her mother gave her a dime and a nickel and sent her back out to pay the difference. It was the last she was seen,” Senior Investigator for Chautauqua County Tom Di Zinno explained. “She was discovered on December 29th, the same year, literally just a couple hundred feet away from her home in a neighbor’s yard.”

In the past, cold cases would remain just that, but now thanks to different platforms, cases like this are being reopened.

“There’s an enormous interest in cold cases across the nation and there are a lot of people who are involved in other media groups and do a lot of investigations on their own or work in groups and in instances we’ve had some very thought provoking theories,” said Di Zinno.

The investigator explains that every theory is appreciated and could prove to be helpful.

“These people have spent a lot of time and have spent a lot of time for years looking into avenues that, from a law enforcement perspective, bears weight,” Di Zinno said. “I think that all of that is welcome. Certainly you get the occasional out of left field manifestos but I think you have to put up with those because inside of those, for every one oddball response that you get you have nine that are really thoughtful and have some great credence to them.”

Di Zinno emphasizes the importance of coming forward if you have any information.

“We’ve heard from critical people who have not ever even talked about it, or held back because they thought that their witness to it was not important or they weren’t sure. Don’t feel that way because we’re building a puzzle and that puzzle, every little new piece of information fills holes.”

If you have any information about the death of Patty Fairbanks you can call the Chautauqua Unsolved line at (716) 753-4579 or send an email to


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