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Thread: Josephine Cottone Despard, Vanished 25 Years Ago

  1. #1

    ice Josephine Cottone Despard, Vanished 25 Years Ago

    OLEAN - Olean Police detectives do not believe the skeletal remains of a woman found Sept. 26 on the banks of the Allegheny Reservoir near Onoville are those of Josephine Cottone Despard, who disappeared 25 years ago.

    The dental records are, however, being sent to Erie County medical Center in Buffalo, where the remains were first examined.
    Lt. Robert Blovsky said he received a telephone call recently from Ms. Despard’s daughter, Lois Payne, who lives near Cleveland, Ohio, asking if the remains could be those of her mother.

    “The dental records are being sent up to Eric County Medical Center,” Lt. Blovsky said. “I didn’t think the bones were that old, but they have to be ruled out.”

    Jamestown police had earlier ruled out the remains being those of either of two women missing from that city in the last year or so. Dental records ruled out the remains being those of either Corrie Anderson or Lori Bova, both of Jamestown.

    Cattaraugus County sheriff’s detectives and New York State Police are also reviewing missing-persons files in an attempt to identify the remains. Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb said the department has no open missing-persons cases, but word was sent out to police departments in adjacent states.

    A fisherman found the remains in mud near the shore of the Allegheny Reservoir off West Perimeter Road between Bone Run and Onoville Marina. There was no immediate cause of death listed.

    After a preliminary forensic examination of the remains at the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office in Buffalo and the Forensic Anthropology Department at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., it was determined the skeletal remains were those of a woman age 25 to 45 years old who was between 5 feet, 1 inch, and 5 feet, 8 inches tall. Her race had not been determined.

  2. #2
    Texaskowgirl Guest

    Default Re: Josephine Cottone Despard, Vanished 25 Years Ago

  3. #3

    Default Re: Josephine Cottone Despard, Vanished 25 Years Ago

    OLEAN — Thirty-four years to the day since Josephine Cottone Despard was reportedly last seen, the Olean Police Department received an anonymous letter from someone it hopes has key information on the missing persons cold case.

    The mailed letter arrived at the Olean police station Wednesday — the 34th anniversary of the young Olean woman’s Feb. 7, 1984, disappearance — containing some information police already knew, and some they had only ever speculated about. Now investigators are eager to have a conversation with whoever penned the handwritten note, which did not include a name or return address.

    “I can’t really get into any details about it, but it has to do with information about her case and it leads me to believe that there’s more this person knows,” said Olean Police Capt. Robert Blovsky, who the letter was addressed to along with several retired investigators. “Hopefully this person reaches out to me again and we can talk because really at this point in the game ... we’re just basically looking for any place to look for her. We just want to see if we can get the family some closure.”

    Blovsky, head of the city’s Criminal Investigation Unit and who inherited the case almost a decade ago, noted whoever wrote the letter is not “in any trouble,” and the letter does not implicate he or she in the disappearance.

    He believes the timing of the letter is intentional.

    “I would think that person thinks about Josie every year at this time, and they finally said, ‘You know maybe if I throw this out to them and see what they can do with it …,’” he said. “Maybe it’s somebody we’ve already talked to, and something happened in their life and they want to come out about this.”

    Despard was 26 at the time of her disappearance. The mother of a 6-year-old daughter who was separated from her husband, she left her mother’s North Clinton Street home at 5 p.m. with a male acquaintance from Franklinville. The two were reportedly going to go to the man’s home to swap stereo components.

    The man told authorities they instead went to the Olean Center Mall for coffee and he last saw her at 6 p.m. He claimed Despard left to go meet up with other friends at the mall, and he left the mall alone.

    The man, who had been a person of interest but has never been publicly identified by police, committed suicide a few months later. His mother also committed suicide years after that, police have said.

    Blovsky said there’s a “good possibility” the now deceased man was involved in Despard’s disappearance.

    “I have a whole file on (the case),” he continued. “There’s more to it and anyone that would read that whole file would think he had something to do with her going missing, but you never know.”

    Investigators previously told the Olean Times Herald they believe the man tried to leave the country after Despard’s disappearance and before his suicide, as he was stopped at the Canadian border, charged with parole violation and drug possession and returned to the U.S.

    Blovsky said he’s shown the letter to retired Olean police officer James Tambash, one of the investigators who worked on the case.

    “Those guys that are still around would love to see some resolution to this,” he said.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Josephine Cottone Despard, Vanished 25 Years Ago

    OLEAN — This time last year, the investigation into the then-34-year-old disappearance of Josephine Cottone Despard seemingly had new life.

    The Olean Police Department received an anonymous letter on the anniversary of the young Olean woman’s Feb. 7, 1984, disappearance, and a handful of other tips and a few new interviews followed. The Olean Times Herald even received correspondence from an anonymous emailer claiming to know the general location of where Despard’s remains are allegedly buried.

    But now 35 years since Despard was last seen, the cold case remains unsolved.

    “It’s just quiet this year,” said Despard’s younger brother, Dominick Cottone. “No one is really talking about it. It is disappointing.”

    Despard, who was 26 and the mother of a 6-year-old girl at the time of her disappearance, was last seen leaving her mother’s North Clinton Street home with a male acquaintance. The 27-year-old Franklinville man was a person of interest, but committed suicide a few months later.

    While the case is still considered a missing persons case, both the family and police agree it’s likely Despard is deceased, and all there is to find now are her remains.

    “We kind of know what happened. We just want to know where she’s at,” said Cottone, who lives in Bradford, Pa. “We want to have her properly buried and put to rest with my mom.”

    Olean Police Capt. Robert Blovsky, who has handled the case for about the last decade, agreed there haven’t been many developments in the last six months.

    However, he said he visited the deceased man and his family’s former Franklinville property last summer in search of Despard’s possible burial location. Plus, he’s still hoping to speak with the man’s former female associate.

    “This person I want to talk to very well could have the key to moving us along on this,” Blovsky said. “I’m sure that person knows that I want to talk to them. I can’t make them, but I’m hoping that when I pick up the phone or go to their house, they’ll be open to talking to me.”

    The Franklinville man, who was previously convicted of raping two women in two separate attacks in Canandaigua, is the last known person to see Despard alive.

    He picked up Despard from her mom’s house around 5 p.m. on Feb. 7, 1984. He later told police he and Despard went to the Olean Center Mall for coffee and he last saw her around 6 p.m., claiming Despard left to go meet up with other friends at the mall.

    The Franklinville man tried to leave the country after Despard’s disappearance but was stopped at the Canadian border. He committed suicide a few months after that.

    Following the anonymous letter and buzz around the case last year, Blovsky said the man’s surviving family members indicated they had second-hand knowledge of possible burial locations at their former Franklinville property, which was visited by original investigators shortly after Despard’s disappearance.

    However, Blovsky said family members could not pinpoint an exact location.

    “We met with a person that indicated they could point it out to us. Well, we got up there and no they really couldn’t. It was more like, ‘It’s in the area somewhere,’” Blovsky said. “It would be senseless for us to start digging everywhere. It would just not be possible.”

    Cottone, who visited the property with Blovsky, said a tree stump in the property’s woods was offered as a possible burial location, but it was too difficult to find.
    “You drive over to the area and walk through the woods and … all the trees looked the same, a lot of tipped over trees. It was a mess,” he said. “But you get that hope and that’s what you do.”

    “We need somebody to say, ‘Right there,’” he added.

    A few months after that visit, Cottone said he was disappointed to learn that the Franklinville man’s brother passed away of natural causes. He had hoped the brother would give up more information and or leave a note before his death.

    “I don’t think he hurt my sister, but I think he knew what happened. Brothers are brothers. Brothers protect brothers,” Cottone said.

    Blovsky said he aware of the brother’s failing health and made a point to speak with him before he died, but the brother “wasn’t real cooperative toward the end of his life.”

    “I definitely tried my hardest to get him to tell me what he knew,” Blovsky said. “And maybe he did tell me everything (he knew), but it seemed like there was more to it.”

    That’s why it’s all the more important he speaks with the female associate, who Blovsky believes may be one of the last persons alive with knowledge about what happened.

    “We already talked to her once and I really need her to open up to us this time,” he said. “I’m tired of having this open. I’d like to have it closed.”

    With the Franklinville man having committed suicide, Cottone said he feels “justice has already been served.” He said he’d be fine if authorities granted immunity to whoever brings forward information that leads to his sister’s remains. At this point, they just want closure.

    “When you’re closer to the anniversary you just start thinking about it more and more and dwelling on it,” he said. “Then you have to come to terms: She’s not coming back. It just goes away after a couple of months, but it’s always in the back of your heart.”

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