BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Rachel and Scott Ball, of Blasdell, headed out to fish with members of their family Tuesday, just like they’ve done for years. It was a bright summer morning, with calm waters — perfect for catching walleye and lake trout.
But their trip took a grim turn when they saw something floating in the water.
“We circled a couple times, and my husband says, ‘Yeah, that’s a person in the water,” Rachel said.
“It was crazy, it was like it wasn’t even real. I asked my dad, we need to call 911, and this is really what’s happening now?” she said.
Scott immediately pulled out his cell phone and began searching the internet for missing persons cases. The first one that popped up was that of Karen LeClair.
“It fit the description of Ms. LeClair,” he said.
Karen LeClair was reported missing June 11 by her husband Christopher.
The man told authorities his wife fell overboard when the couple went out on the lake last month. But dock surveillance video showed Christopher and his wife left together, and he returned alone.
Rachel and Scott said they knew right away her death was no accident.
“We were able to see the bathing suit bottom, and it was bloated. And it looked like something tied around her chest area because you could tell there was something tight around it,” Rachel said. “And you could see down into the water a little bit, and it looked like something was weighing her down.
“It took us a few minutes, but then we realized that he legs were bound together as well,” she added.
Pennsylvania State Police confirmed that during a press conference late Wednesday to confirm the identity of Karen LeClair.
“And a second rope was tied around the victim’s chest, which had a boat anchor attached to it,” said state police Lt. Wayne Kline.
Kline said when bodies decompose, they become extremely buoyant.
“The water currents, the gasses that gain pressure in the body that allow her to raise up,” he said. “The anchor wasn’t all that heavy, and she was approximately 150 lbs. So the anchor wasn’t heavy enough to hold her down long term.”
State police say Karen LeClair was shot in the head before being dumped into the lake. And her family had been desperately looking for her since early last month.
“At least her family has closure now. They know what happened,” said Scott.
“Now they have the evidence to keep him in jail,” Rachel added. “And I just feel bad. Bad things happen, and it stinks for the family, and it stinks that it was on a holiday. I just think they’ll never celebrate the 4th of July the same way again.”
In addition to charging Christopher LeClair with his wife’s murder, state police announced yesterday a second arrest. Christopher’s father, Ernest, of Florida, was charged with tampering with evidence.
State police said he admitted to hiding the .38 caliber gun allegedly used to shoot Karen LeClair in the head.