Return home

Unsolved cases to receive fresh look

Eric Tichy, Jamestown Post-Journal
Posted 6/16/22

Unsolved homicide and missing person cases are receiving a fresh look in a unit established in the last week at the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Unsolved cases to receive fresh look


Unsolved homicide and missing person cases are receiving a fresh look in a unit established in the last week at the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office.

Two senior investigators have been hired as special deputies to work part-time within the Criminal Investigation Division. Those investigators, Tom Tarpley and Tom Di Zinno, bring years of law enforcement experience to the newly established team.

Sheriff James Quattrone said both men worked homicide and unsolved cases in California during their careers.

“Sometimes with the familiarity, you may be overlooking something, and with this fresh set of eyes they’re coming in with no preconceived notions and they’re going to look at everything fresh,” Quattrone told The Post-Journal and OBSERVER. “It’s easy when you’re very familiar with a case to be overlooking something, and these guys hopefully will be able to weed through that.”

Tarpley and Di Zinno will be led by Lt. Alex Nutt in the Criminal Investigation Division. Since their hiring, the new senior investigators have been set up in their own office and have begun to go through some of the cases.

“They have a whole lot of homework,” Nutt quipped about Tarpley and Di Zinno learning the case files. The two will work about 20 hours a week and work closely with the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office, which has expressed support for a team to review local unsolved cases.

“Now that they’ve started, they’ll immerse themselves in the cases and make checklists, spend some time on things, anything that can be resubmitted for DNA analysis,” Nutt said.

At the onset, Tarpley and Di Zinno specifically will look at cases under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office. The hope is to then work with other police agencies — Jamestown, Lakewood-Busti, Dunkirk and the New York State Police, among others — to assist with their unsolved cases.

“Our goal is to have them start looking at some of our unsolved cases with a fresh look and, as we get towards the end of the year, beginning of next year, we’re hopefully going to bring two additional part-time staff on that have retired from the Sheriff’s Office,” Quattrone said. “They have some working knowledge of those cases.”

Among the cases to be reviewed is the homicide of Jamestown resident Yolanda Bindics, who was 25 years old when she went missing the night of Aug. 10, 2004. Her vehicle was discovered the next day in a parking lot near her work.

Skeletal remains later identified as belonging to Bindics were found by hunters Sept. 10, 2006, in a heavily wooded area in the town of Charlotte.

The case was discussed last year between Bindics’ sister, Anne Chmielewski, District Attorney Jason Schmidt, Quattrone and investigators with the Sheriff’s Office.

“This case is one which we need to resolve and we have discussed forming a cold case unit for this reason, but it has not yet been implemented,” Schmidt told the newspapers last year. “We are working through the logistics of that — nothing is as simple as we would like, but I want to emphasize that the investigation is not dependent on establishment of a cold case unit; it is active right now. Everyone and every agency which was touched by the Yolanda Bindics case is dedicated to seeing that justice is served.”

Quattrone echoed the DA’s notion, stating that investigators routinely go through unsolved cases and follow up on new leads.

“I’m hoping that the families realize that we’ve always taken these cases seriously and have always had a desire to do what we can to solve them,” he said. “This is hopefully an opportunity to work alongside them, offer them some hope that we can get to some resolutions for the cases.”

Another case to be reviewed early on is the 1983 homicide of a woman found dead along old Route 17 in the town of Ellery. The still-unidentified woman is known as “Jane Doe,” and the case received renewed interest last year after a Facebook page created by the Sheriff’s Office highlighted facts on the homicide.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here