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Bindics' death ruled a homicide by authorities

Yolanda Bindics was the victim of a homicide, authorities in Chautauqua County confirmed Friday afternoon.

The 25-year-old Jamestown mother of four was missing for more than two years before her skeletal remains were found in mid-September by hunters on densely wooded state forest land in the Town of Charlotte.

The homicide ruling followed an investigation by forensic anthropologist Dr. Dennis C. Dirkmaat -- a professor at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., and a specialist in crime scene archaeology -- and the medical examiner's office at Erie County Medical Center.

"They concluded it wasn't a natural death, it was, in fact, a homicide," said David W. Foley, Chautauqua County district attorney.

Foley said Dirkmaat and his staff at the medical examiner's office made a two- to three-hour "comprehensive presentation" to authorities about their findings earlier this week. A final report from Dirkmaat is pending, along with coroner's and medical examiner's reports.

Foley said investigators now know the cause of Bindics' death. However, he wouldn't discuss details in order to "protect the integrity of [the] investigation."

Chautauqua County authorities called Bindics' family together early Friday afternoon to discuss the findings and the case before making the announcement at a news conference in Mayville.

No suspects were named Friday, and Foley declined to comment on any "persons of interest." He called the discovery of Bindics' remains and the medical experts' findings "an important part of the puzzle" that helps authorities in their pursuit of solving the case.

Bindics disappeared Aug. 10, 2004, after leaving work at the Family Dollar store on Fluvanna Avenue in Jamestown. A day later, her car was found parked at an Arby's restaurant nearby. The next month, police found her personal belongings -- including her purse, wallet and keys -- in a catch basin to a storm sewer in Jamestown.

In the weeks and months that followed Bindics' disappearance, her family organized massive search parties and scoured southern Chautauqua County and pleaded for her safe return.

Bindics family attorney, Patrick McDonnell of Buffalo, was at Friday's news conference and requested the family be granted privacy at this time. He said Foley asked family members not to comment during the investigation.

News Chautauqua Correspondent Joel Keefer contributed to this report.

-mail: tpignataro@buffnews.com

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