Missing persons cold case stirs up long-gone feelings

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — The FBI has joined with the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office to open a case that has been cold for 33 years.

In 1982, 2 year-old Russell Mort disappeared from his fenced-in backyard after his mother had gone into the house to fix a toy guitar.

The Niagara River is about 100 yards from the boy’s mobile home. Russell had scaled the backyard fence days earlier, according to Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour.

However, many still believe the boy was abducted.

Investigators now want to reconstruct what life was like at the Lynch mobile home park as it existed in 1982.

Voutour appeared with FBI Special Agent in Charge Brian Boetig Thursday.

“How do you not do everything you can to fight to bring some type of resolution to this case?,” said Voutour.  A picture of Russell has he looked at the time he went missing was posted next to a photo of what he might like look like today.

Boetig said, “For every person that we find, and they tell us about somebody else, it’s a spider web effect. We’re looking for people who lived in those trailers, who visited those trailers, what type of cars they drove, what type of relatives they had that may have come and visited them.”

An old theory that a man and a woman in a white 1965 Corvette may have been seen with Russell in the car, is no longer on the front burner according to Voutour.

Bill MacVie, the only Lynch Park resident left from 1982, does not believe Russell wandered into the Niagara River.

“We just thought someone had to have taken that child,” he said.

He remembers investigators checking under trailers and inside homes.

No leads over the years panned out.

Gabie Ames, who now lives in the Lynch mobile home park, said she had once been questioned after Russell’s disappearance because her son looked very much like the boy.

She was finally able to convince investigators her son was not Russell Mort. She understands the pain of Russell’s mother.

“This poor mother doesn’t know what happened to her son,” she said. “She’s not sure whether he’s alive or dead. And it’s got to be horrible living with that. I can’t even imagine it.”

Russell’s mother, Ruth Mort, declined to be interviewed on-camera, but said the investigation has opened old wounds. She added that she hopes she will finally have answers.

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