NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) — After police discovered a dismembered body on Tuesday night which was eerily similar to a murder in 2012, they are tracing steps back to that case.
A large police force spent about ninety minutes Thursday at Hyde Park Lake in Niagara Falls, where parts of Loretta Gates’ body were located in 2012 after her murder. Gates’ body was located dismembered in locations in the Niagara River and Hyde Park Lake. Given the similarities to the recent murder of Terry Gates, police say they’re covering their bases to ensure they don’t miss any evidence, but stressed they’re not following up on any specific leads.
Terri Bills, a 46-year-old Niagara Falls woman, was located in a vacant home decapitated and dismembered on Tuesday night.
The connection between the two cases have been highlighted by police. Both Gates and Bills had histories in drugs and prostitution, but they also were related. Bills was Gates’ aunt by marriage.
“My cousin Loretta, when she started cleaning up, this is when it happened,” Bills’ step-son Richard Mattoon said. “Terri was starting to clean up, this is when it happened.”
On Thursday afternoon, Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour and District Attorney Michael Violante showed up together to examine the crime scene for a few minutes but wouldn’t comment on the investigation.
“We’ve gotten some tips and we’ve gotten some leads and we’ve gotten some information on possible suspects,” Niagara Falls Police captain Michael Trane said.
Falls Police say it’s still too early to say whether or not the killer of Terri Bills is the same person who killed Loretta Gates nearly three years ago.
“It pulls you,” Kahla Narehood, a recovering addict who knew both victims, said. “You meet strangers, you go with strangers and you never know what’s gonna happen, you never know. It’s life threatening. That’s what addiction does to you.”
Bills leaves behind two teenage sons, including Kyle Mattoon, who says he infrequently saw his mother, as she lost custody of the children.
“She’d been trying to get back on our lives after she screwed up,” Mattoon said. “But she’s never stopped trying.”
Relatives like Josh Highway say they feel there is a strong possibility the two women were killed by the same person.
“They need to put two and two together, they need to figure out if this crime is related to Loretta’s or not,” Highway said.
A dive team Thursday searched for that potential link in Hyde Park Lake, where parts of Loretta Gates’ body were found three years ago.
Niagara Falls Police enlisted help of New York State Troopers and Park Police in the investigation.
Niagara Falls Police Chief Bryan Dalporto says they may call on additional reinforcements, like K-9 or aerial patrols, if they need more manpower.