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WOMAN'S BODY FOUND IN RIVER HAD BEEN STRANGLED, POLICE SAY

An East Amherst Street woman whose body was recovered from the Niagara River earlier this month died from strangulation, authorities said today.

"She was manually strangled," said Capt. Joseph Riga, chief of the Homicide Bureau, explaining that the killer used his hands to block Portia Collins' air passage.

Officers of the Marine Unit of the Erie County Sheriff's Department pulled Miss Collins' body from the river at about 3:15 p.m. July 2 off Niagara Street near Ontario Street, investigators said.

Riga declined to comment on whether a motive has been established for the death, which was ruled a homicide based on the autopsy results.

"Our officers are following up leads," he said. "We believe she was in the water a short time."

Miss Collins, 34, was employed as a nurse's aide at the Harris Hill Nursing Facility in Amherst.

Born in Los Angeles, she had moved to the Buffalo area at a young age. She attended local schools and had also worked as a nurse's aide at Manhattan Manor Nursing Home in Buffalo.

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