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3 who cracked murder case honored

Three investigators who cracked a murder case that had been unsolved for 18 years were given awards of meritorious service Tuesday from Cattaraugus County Sheriff Timothy S. Whitcomb.

Honored at a ceremony were Undersheriff William M. Nichols and Investigators Michael J. Malak and Thomas T. Stofer. All worked with the Sheriff's Cold Case Unit on the unsolved 1994 stabbing murder of Andie Gasper in Yorkshire.

Gasper's estranged wife, Cheryl Gasper, and her former lover, Randall Knight, were convicted on felony homicide charges last year -- Knight in federal court and Cheryl Gasper in Cattaraugus County Court -- and both are expected to serve prison terms of at least 20 years.

The investigation was especially unusual, Whitcomb said, because Knight was acquitted of Gasper's murder in a state court following a trial months after the murder.

Despite the acquittal, investigators were always convinced that Knight and Cheryl Gasper were involved in the murder, and they were finally able to find enough evidence to convict Knight on federal charges of crossing state lines to commit a murder for hire, Whitcomb noted.

"The dedication, teamwork, strategy, collaboration and tenacity that it took to complete this task is unmatched to any other investigation I have ever been exposed to," the sheriff said.

FBI agents, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Cattaraugus County District Attorney's Office also took part in the probe.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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