Cattaraugus County, N.Y. (WKBW) --The remains of a missing woman turned up in Cattaraugus County two and a half years ago and officials in the Southern Tier are releasing new details surrounding her death. When the remains were discovered in the fall of 2009, investigators knew it would be difficult to identify them. They had been exposed to the elements for a long time.
The Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Office released a photo of now 45 year old Traci Douglass. The last time police can confirm that anyone saw her alive, was December 2006. Multiple DNA tests now confirm that the remains found more than two years ago are hers. A man walking along the banks of the Allegany Reservoir off West Perimeter Road in the Town of South Valley called the sheriff's office when he discovered some bones that looked human.
"The remains that we discovered were left in an exposed environment for a lengthy period of time...which is why we had such a difficult time extracting the DNA. We were largely working with bones and teeth, Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb announced.
Douglass was living in Salamanca when she disappeared. She was originally from Maryland and was out of touch with her family. No one reported her missing. "We do not believe that this was a natural death. The umbrella of unnatural death can include a couple of different things. It could be suicide, it could be accidental...more than likely, in this case, we are leaning toward right now however...as foul play," Sheriff Whitcomb added.
A person who knew Traci, recently told an investigator that Douglass hadn't been seen for quite awhile. That's when the the sheriff's office turned to new high tech DNA Testing in New York City to confirm the identity of the remains.
"We would like to hear from everybody that was in her social circle...anybody and everybody. Any piece of information that they may have, that may seem insignificant to them...it may be very significant to us." Sheriff Whitcomb said.
The sheriff's office is asking people to call with any information they have about Traci Douglass. The phone number is 716-938-2276. They will keep all tips confidential.