Niagara Gazette

Local News

December 27, 2012

TOP 10: Still searching for suspects in Gates case (No. 6)

Niagara Gazette — It was early September and fear in the city had risen to a level where Cataract City cops had to reassure residents that there wasn’t a serial killer on the loose.

The reality was that a series of discoveries of body parts in Hyde Park Lake and the Niagara River gorge were all linked to one horrific crime, the murder of Loretta Jo Gates.

The Falls’ second homicide of 2012, came on the heels of the murder of 5-year-old Isabella Tennant two weeks earlier and left residents deeply shaken. After an immediate arrest in the Tennant case, detectives tried to calm the fears created by rampant rumors and wild speculation on social media websites.

“It has been brought to our attention, from several sources, that there are a number of rumors regarding the Loretta Gates death and investigation,” a police 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.”

After the release of that statement on Sept. 10, investigators also said, “We are not scheduling another press conference ... until an arrest is made or we have significant new developments that we would like to make public.”

In the intervening three-plus months, there has been no arrest nor any apparently “significant new developments.” Sources close to the case have told the Gazette that Falls police detectives have doggedly tracked numerous leads, without success.

“Every time we think we have a prime suspect, something falls through and we’re back at square one,” the source said. 

Asked about the status of the investigation at year’s end, investigators said there was nothing new to report.

“Unfortunately, no, there’s no new developments,” Detective Lt. Mike Trane said. “But we’re still actively working the case, we’re checking out leads and we’re getting assistance from the state police.”

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