When Hamburg village police and paramedics responded to a first-aid call about a 72-year-old man in October 2008, they found the man unresponsive and thought he had suffered a heart attack or stroke.
They later determined that Herman Forthman had been stabbed in the abdomen. But at the scene, inside the man's Main Street apartment in the village, he wasn't bleeding from the wound.
Almost a year and a half later, Hamburg village police announced Friday that they've charged Forthman's girlfriend, Linda Campanella, 58, with second-degree murder.
"We looked at all avenues," Hamburg Village Police Capt. Michael C. Melisz said of the lengthy investigation. "[Campanella] was pretty much our main person of interest from the beginning."
Authorities wouldn't say Friday whether they thought Campanella had cleaned up the stab wound before police were summoned to the couple's apartment on the afternoon of Oct. 5, 2008. Police would say only that Forthman was not bleeding from the wound when he was treated at the scene.
Doctors found the abdomen wound that afternoon at Mercy Hospital. Emergency surgery was performed, but Forthman died early on the morning of Oct. 7.
Melisz, who investigated the case with Detective Richard Schara, said they worked closely with the Erie County district attorney's office and the county Forensics Laboratory putting together the evidence that led to the arrest.
The police captain wouldn't divulge many details about how the case was solved.
"We were able to collect DNA evidence, and it added greatly to our case," he said. "It was a combination of things, and all the work from our detectives, the DA's office and the forensics lab that allowed us to make the arrest."
Authorities wouldn't say whether Campanella has admitted her involvement in statements to police.
Campanella pleaded not guilty Friday before State Supreme Court Justice M. William Boller, who ordered her held without bail in the Erie County Holding Center.