Falls Woman Was Turning Her Life Around Before Her Murder

September 9, 2012 Updated Sep 9, 2012 at 2:12 AM EDT

By John Borsa

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September 9, 2012 Updated Sep 9, 2012 at 2:12 AM EDT

NIAGARA FALLS, NY (WKBW) - When Loretta Gates, a 30-year-old mother of three, went missing on Aug. 25, she had just moved in with her mother and was about to regain custody of her oldest daughter.

After years battling alcohol and drug addiction, Gates was ready to reclaim her life, her sister Lisa Gates said.

"She told me about all the stuff that she wanted to do. She was going to GED. She was going to all her AA meetings. She was going to drug court," Lisa said on Saturday, one day after learning a headless torso pulled from the Niagara River was her sister's.

"She had everything lined up like she wanted to, to get the kids back. She had a goal in mind and that's what she was going for," said Loretta's father Arthur Gates.

Four days after she went missing, the torso was discovered. Then nearly a week later, a partial arm and leg were recovered near the Whirlpool Rapids.

The family is still waiting to find out of the body parts belong to Loretta.

"We're trying to follow up leads but we haven't identified a clear suspect at this point. There's a lot of people we're talking to right now," Niagara Falls Police Capt. William Thomson said Friday.

Funeral arrangements are still pending. Anyone with information is asked to call Niagara Falls Police at (716) 286-4553.