Family Fears Torso Could Belong to Missing Woman

September 6, 2012 Updated Sep 6, 2012 at 6:45 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

...
September 6, 2012 Updated Sep 6, 2012 at 6:45 PM EDT

Niagara Falls, NY (WKBW) - There's new clues to the possible identity of a torso found in the lower Niagara River.

A local family is waiting to hear word, but believe the victim is their missing daughter.

Loretta Gates family has one wish -- that the 30-year-old Niagara Falls woman comes home.

They have not seen Loretta since August 25th. That night, Loretta left her mother's apartment to go to a grocery store at Main Street and Niagara Avenue.

Tammy Gates said after an hour "I called her and she said she'd be home in 15-20 minutes and she never came home." No one has seen or heard from her since.

Loretta's Facebook page is filled with worried messages. Family members have posted hundreds of flyers across Niagara Falls.

Arthur Gates, Loretta's father, tells Eyewitness News "You cant sleep at night because you're wondering. Every phone call you get you're hoping."

Family members started searching on their own, going to places Loretta took her children to and areas she hung out at.

Even though Loretta's been sober for several years, they originally feared she had gotten involved with drugs again. However, for the last decade, Loretta has talked to her mother multiple times a day. When too much time passed, the family went to police.

With news of a torso washing up in the Niagara River, Loretta's family fears the worst.

Tammy says when she first heard about the torso, "My stomach went to my throat and my heart ... It's just that mother instinct. Just got that gut reaction."

Loretta's parents say there are just too many similarities.

The Niagara Regional Police thought so too. While they would not comment on any ongoing investigation, the family says they have given DNA samples to investigators. They also gave police Loretta's toothbrush and hairbrush.

Loretta had a damage fallopian tube, three cesarean sections and a pierced belly button. These are all similar to the description of the torso found in the river.

Police say the victim of the torso had been murdered and dismembered.

Loretta's family says she would not just disappear.

Lisa Gates says "she's good with her kids. She doesn't miss stuff with her kids." This week, Loretta missed her kids first day of school -- a day she was looking forward to.

While the Gates family fears the worst, they are holding out hope that Loretta will come home.

Arthur says "all we can do is just keep looking, until we know one way or the other."

Loretta's family says the DNA analysis should be back in the next few days.

Niagara Regional Police ask that anyone with female family members, co-workers or neighbors that they have not seen for a long time make a welfare check, and report any disappearances.

Anyone with information on Loretta Gates' disappearance should call police.