Breaking News
More () »

Unsolved: New Chautauqua County leadership brings hope to Bindics family 17 years later

When asked what it would mean to have this case solved, sister Anne Chmielewski said, 'It would mean peace for not just me but my family.'

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — August 10 will mark 17 years since a young Jamestown mother of four disappeared. 

The family of 25-year-old Yolanda Bindics is hoping new leadership in Chautauqua County will help solve her 2004 cold case. 

In January, Jason Schmidt was sworn in as the new Chautauqua County District Attorney and recently met with Yolanda's family to discuss the case.

Yolanda's sister, Anne Chmielewski, said Schmidt created a cold case unit to try and get arrests made in long unsolved cases.

"For us it's very important," Chmielewski said.

Added sister Margaret Queen: "That opportunity is honestly a blessing. In the past, I want to say year and a half, there has been new information that I have received that is rather significant and could very well point to one direction."

2 On Your Side spoke with Jamestown Police Captain Robert Samuelson, who has been investigating the case for more than a decade.

"What we've done is we've been able to take some additional leads and go from there," he said. "We are still trying to connect some of the pieces that quite frankly don't make sense to us."

Bindics was leaving work at the Family Dollar the evening she went missing; she was going to stop at the store on her way home.

Her brother, Frank Bindics, was watching her kids while she worked. He called her to see when she was coming home.

In 2004, 2 On Your Side spoke with him about what happened that evening.

"When she got out at 8 o'clock, 20 after 8, I called her. She asked me if needed anything food-wise around the house, meaning food. She said she was going to cash some WIC checks anyways for milk, and I said all right, no problem. About 15 minutes after that, about 8:35, I called her back, and there was no answer at all," he said.

Added Queen: "If she didn't answer she would call me within a few minutes, and she didn't. I called back about 10 to 15 minutes later and left a voicemail and that was it, and I never heard from her again."

The next morning the family contacted Jamestown Police, which started an investigation into her disappearance.

"The family did a lot of searches, we did a lot of our searches and her car showed up a block away, well a few blocks away at the Arby's parking lot," Chmielewski said.

That spot became the main focus of police efforts and search parties.

"Yeah, that's something investigators looked at very closely. Obviously, the car was forensically examined and everything and that part was looked into not only by our department but the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)," Captain Samuelson said.

Despite searching nearly the entire city of Jamestown, a month went by without a trace of Yolanda, until Western New York was hit with a bad rain storm. Yolanda's purse, wallet and keys were discovered in the drain system. 

Nothing else was discovered until September 10, 2006 when hunters found human remains in the woods that were later determined to be Yolanda.

Now 17 years later, there are still two persons of interest in the case, both of whom had romantic relationships with her: former Jamestown Police officer Michael Watson and Clarence Carte, the father of one of her children.

2 On Your Side asked Captain Samuelson for more information about these men. 

"At this point Leanne in the investigation I can't comment on any person of interest," he replied.

When asked what it would mean to have this case solved, Chmielewski said, "It would mean peace for not just me but my family."

The Bindics family is hosting a vigil for Yolanda in Bergman park on August 10 at 7 p.m. with a balloon release at 8:20 when she went missing.

Credit: WGRZ

If anyone has any information on this case you are asked to contact the Jamestown Police Department, Chautauqua County District Attorney or Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office.

The Unsolved podcast is streaming now on Apple Podcast and Spotify.

Before You Leave, Check This Out