Remains Of One Of Two Bodies Identified By Sheriff
MAYVILLE — A Buffalo family has gotten the answer they dreaded — the body of Marquita Mull, 50, has been found.
Her remains were identified as one of the two women discovered near a hiking trail in the town of Portland.
The other woman’s body remains to be identified, although using dental records, police know it’s not the body of Lori Ceci Bova or Corrie Anderson. It’s yet to be determined if the remains could be Patricia Laemmerhirt, a Westfield resident who was last seen in April 1976.
Sheriff James Quattrone made the announcement Thursday morning at a press conference in Mayville. He declined to guess if he felt the two deaths were connected. “We’re going to stick with the facts rather than speculate because we feel that by sticking with the facts, it’s going to help us with our investigation,” he said.
The remains of the unidentified woman were found on Sept. 26 by a hiker on the Chautauqua County Rails to Trails off of Woleben Road. That individual found what she believed was a human skull. Officers secured the scene and brought out a specialist from Mercyhurst University’s Anthropology Division the following morning. Investigators did some excavating of the scene and recovered the skeletal remains from a shallow grave, about 6 inches deep. Quattrone said the body is estimated to have been in the ground for “decades.”
A portion of the skeletal remains will now be sent to the New York State Crime Lab in Albany for DNA testing. When those results are in, they will be compared to Lammerhirt, as well as other missing persons from Western New York. Quattrone is hoping the results will be available in four to six weeks.
On Sept. 27, when investigators were doing a grid search for other evidence, they came across Mull’s body, 10 yards from the spot where the first person was buried. That body was estimated to have been there two to six months.
Unlike the first body, Quattrone said no attempt was made to bury Mull’s body. The Buffalo woman’s remains were actually in a thick brush area. “The area was overgrown with different weeds and brush. If you were walking down the trail and just glancing over in that area you likely wouldn’t have seen it. Officers were there for almost two and a half hours within 10 yards of it and didn’t see her body,” he said.
Quattrone did not say how she died but he does believe it was suspicious. He also does not believe she was murdered while on the trail, mainly because there’s no evidence of any crime. Mull had no connection with Chautauqua County and was not known to be a hiker on the county trails. More likely, he said, she was killed elsewhere and her body was brought to Portland, where it was left.
Mull was last seen on June 25 in Buffalo and was reported missing on July 18 to the Buffalo Police Department. “We have been working with the Buffalo Police Department since Oct. 1 (when speculation was first made that the body was Mull), and discussing with them and sharing information and them sharing information back with us, and we’re going to continue working closely with Buffalo Police Department,” Quattrone said.
Quattrone first considered Mull to be the missing person on Oct. 1, when he read her profile on the WNY Missing and Unidentified Persons Facebook page. The post now reads, “Marquita Mull has been located deceased. Please continue lifting her sister & family up in your prayers for strength & comfort during this very difficult time. Please respect the families privacy right now & we will release any further information if/when it is released to the public. RIP beautiful. Thank you all for sharing & a handful of volunteers that went & searched/hung fliers on several occasions to raise awareness about Marquita going missing from Buffalo, N.Y.”
Quattrone noted that Mull’s body did have some evidence of trauma, however she had been involved in a motor vehicle accident. Investigators are not sure yet if the trauma was caused by the car accident or some other way that may have caused her death.
Laemmerhirt has been missing for 45 years. The case was handled by the New York State Police. Quattrone said there is no one in his office now that was working on the case; however, he has spoken with a retired officer who was involved in her search.
“Like anything, if you talk to any of the officers who have been involved in the investigations of missing people, they take it to heart,” he said.
According to the website charleyproject.org, Laemmerhirt was last seen in Westfield on April 3, 1976. She lived with her husband, Ernest Laemmerhirt Jr., on North Portage Street. In March that year, Patricia told her brother she was having marital problems, and he took her to stay with their mother. She later returned to live with Ernest in Westfield, however.
According to the website, on April 5 Ernest called Patricia’s brother to ask if he’d seen her. He said Patricia had left two days before. She has never been heard from again.
“Patricia’s brother was suspicious of Ernest’s story and broke into the Laemmerhirt residence to look for clues. All her belongings were gone, including her clothes. Ernest reported his wife missing, saying he thought she might have gone to Chicago, Illinois. There was no evidence of a crime and police had little to go on,” the website reads. “Ernest eventually moved away from the residence. In 1993, investigators searched the Laemmerhirts’ former home for Patricia’s body, digging up the backyard, the basement floor and a concrete addition to the house. Her brother got permission for the dig from the home’s new owners and paid for the search. Nothing was located.”
Quattrone said on Thursday that he has spoken to two of her brothers since the remains have been found. “As with every family, I think they’re struggling. They have the emotional roller coaster, but they’ve been very helpful in providing whatever information that they’re able to,” he said. “The goal is not only to identify the individuals to find out who may be responsible for their deaths but also to hopefully provide some level of of comfort for the family members.”
Patricia was a 1968 graduate of Dunkirk High School. She left behind two young children.