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Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Investigate Salamanca Woman's Death

7:30 PM, Feb 28, 2012   |    comments
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Video: Missing Woman's Remains Identified

Location of area where remains were found.

LITTLE VALLEY, NY - Cattaraugus Sheriff investigators have identified human remains found in 2009 in the Allegany Reservoir as a missing Salamanca woman.

The missing woman was identified as 45-year old Traci Douglass.

Douglass was last seen in Salamanca around January 2007. The case is being investigated as suspicious and her cause of death has yet to be determined.

"We're treating this as an unnatural death investigation," Sheriff Tim Whitcomb told 2 On Your Side. "If Traci was still here with us today she would be almost 45-years old. Due to her age and due to where she was discovered, we do not believe this was a natural death. The umbrella of unnatural death can include a couple of things. It could be suicide. It could be accidental. More than likely in this case what we're leaning towards right now however is foul play."  

The Sheriff's department is being assisted by the FBI in Jamestown.

The remains were sent to the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo to be examined, along with clothing found at the scene.  The remains were also examined at the Forensic Anthropology Center at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania.

In April 2011, investigators say the remains were also sent to the Department of Forensic Biology New York City for a more detailed DNA analysis. This exam resulted in a suitable DNA profile being obtained.

Detectives contacted Douglass' relatives and obtained a DNA from the family and submitted to the lab for analysis which resulted in a match.

"To finally get a lead, that gives us some connectivity, gives us optimism and gives us hope. We're halfway home now," said Sheriff Whitcomb. 

Anyone with information can call Detective William Welling at 716-938-2276. All calls will be handled confidentially.

Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Department

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