Fundraiser To Aid Unsolved Crimes Unit

March 8 will mark 47 years since Judith Threlkeld was last seen — walking along Central Avenue in the village of Silver Creek. In the last year, her disappearance has received new attention due to a fresh look by the Unsolved Crimes Unit with the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

A fundraiser set for this Friday at Northwest Arena in Jamestown will help the unit with new forensic testing in unsolved homicide and open missing person cases, including Threlkeld’s.

Merry Williams-Diers with WNY Missing & Unidentified Persons, along with numerous volunteers, organized Friday’s event — Pasta Palooza — taking place from 3-6 p.m. A suggested donation of $12 includes a pasta entree, drink, side salad, Italian bread and brownie. Meals can be enjoyed at the arena or taken out, and other activities are planned.

Williams-Diers said all proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward the Unsolved Crimes Unit with the blessing of the Sheriff’s Office. The date was chosen to coincide with National Missing Persons Day, which is this Friday.

“The newly-founded Chautauqua County Unsolved Crimes Unit’s mission directly aligns with this purpose, as well as ours at WNY Missing & Unidentified Persons Network,” she said. “All proceeds will be donated to their unit to hopefully assist in the funding aspects to solve some of our Chautauqua County unsolved cases.”

She added, “This is part of our mission all-year-long, but we’d love to see our community out supporting our event.”

Tom Tarpley and Tom Di Zinno, investigators with the Unsolved Crimes Unit, are expected to be at the arena Friday.

Di Zinno expressed appreciation for the fundraiser.

“So much of our work is dependent on new forensic testing,” he said. “DNA testing, for example is done in stages. As we proceed with the unsolved crimes cases, we see opportunities for new testing.

“Some of these tests will need to use private labs because of timing, technology and most certainly the backlog at Law Enforcement labs. This type of testing requires a budget over and above what is normally set aside. The proceeds from this fundraiser will help build that kind of a budget.”

In addition to the meals, Williams-Diers said Friday’s fundraiser also will include a Penny social and “events happening on both ice rinks.”

“The detectives leading this unit will also be present for a meet-and-greet,” she said. “We hope to see you all there supporting a great cause.”

Just this week, the unit put out a message regarding the Threlkeld case. Tarpley and Di Zinno are looking to identify a private investigator hired by a family member in the 1980s to look into Threlkeld’s disappearance. That family member has since passed away, and anyone with information is asked to call 716-753-4578.

Threlkeld was last seen March 8, 1976, walking along Central Avenue in Silver Creek after departing Anderson-Lee Library on Main Street.

On the day she went missing, the 22-year-old was offered a ride home by her brother, Henry, who saw her walking along the road. She declined, telling her brother she wanted to walk.

“She was the only girl in the family. She never had any interest in what us boys were doing,” Danny Threlkeld, her brother, told The Post-Journal and OBSERVER in an interview last year.

Danny Threlkeld said he has one simple wish: “Just closure on what might have happened to her or if she’s dead. That’s basically all we’re after right now.”


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