PORTLAND, N.Y. — The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office and Mercyhurst's Forensic Anthropology team are working to investigate human remains that were found near a hiking trail around 7 p.m. Sunday evening.
A hiker was on the 'Chautauqua Rails to Trails' path near Woleben road in the town of Portland, when she reported the remains to authorities.
Chautauqua County Sheriff James Quattrone said she was searching for an item lost on a previous hike. She reported to police she saw what appeared to be a glass object off the side of the trail but what she discovered was a human skull.
"Once she felt it was human remains she contacted the Sheriff's Office," said Quattrone. "We sent initially one of our patrol officers and some forensic identification officers, they determined it was in fact human remains."
Quattorne told 2 On Your Side the remains were found 20 to 30 feet off of the trail. He said investigators will be thoroughly searching the area Tuesday.
The skeletal remains are said to be intact and will be taken to the Mercyhurst University's morgue in North East Pennsylvania.
According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System there are seven missing people from Chautauqua County.
"At this point we haven't ruled out any of them. We are hoping with some dental records and some DNA that we may be able to rule many of them out but at this point we don't have any definite answers," said Quattrone.
Quattrone said the forensic anthropologists believe it's "likely a female" but any estimations on age and size have not been determined yet.
The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office is working with different investigating agencies for 3 cases of missing woman and have asked them to contact their families.
Deputies have obtained DNA samples from NYS State Police for 28-year-old Patricia Laemmerhirt, who went missing in April of 1976. She lived in Westfield which is less than 10 miles from the trail where remains were found.
Quattrone said they are also focused on the cases of 36-year-old Corrie Anderson and 26-year-old Lori Bova.
Anderson went missing in October of 2008. She was last seen leaving a car dealership in the City of Jamestown and when she didn't show up to pick her son up from school, her family got worried and reported her missing.
Bova was last seen in Lakewood, NY after having dinner with her husband, sister and brother-in-law. Her husband reported she went for a walk after an argument and never came back.
"Those are the three we are primarily focused on at this moment, trying through the investigation to look for further evidence that could lead the investigation to one of those missing individuals or to rule them out. Our hope is to get some closure for one of the families," he said.
Quattrone said they were able to obtain dental records for Bova and Anderson but not Laemmerhirt. He said identification could take 1 to 2 weeks and a thorough analysis of the remains could be up to a month.
"We are also asking anyone from the public if they've used this trail or been in the area or seen anything suspicious to contact the Sheriff's Office and advise us," he said.