A police dog specially trained to search for bodies found partially decomposed remains – possibly of a missing California man – in a ravine about one-quarter mile off an unpaved seasonal road in East Otto.
The cadaver dog from the Erie County Sheriff's Office took about 90 minutes on Saturday night to find the corpse, said Capt. Bruce Elliott, chief of the Niagara County Sheriff's Office's Criminal Bureau.
The body may be that of Rudy Ray Rockett Sr., 64, of Redondo Beach, Calif.
His son, Rudy Jr., told The Buffalo News on Sunday that authorities had called him to tell him his father’s body had been recovered.
No positive identification has been made, Elliott said.
Rockett's stepson, Gregory Roy, 29, remains in custody in the Niagara County Jail without bail on a charge of criminal possession of a weapon.
The weapon charge, filed April 30 in Porter Town Court, accused Roy of owning an unregistered 9 mm handgun found in the glove compartment of a 2006 Saab. That was the make and year of the car the Niagara County Sheriff's Office said in the initial missing person report was connected to the missing Rockett. Authorities sought information from anyone who might have seen the dark grey Saab April 29 in southern Erie County or Cattaraugus County.
Roy was supposed to have driven Rockett to Buffalo Niagara International Airport on April 29 for a flight to California, but Rockett never made the flight. His wife, who had stayed behind in Porter, reported him missing.
Law enforcement sources previously told The Buffalo News that a car was seized that contains significant blood stains on the passenger side door.
Niagara County Assistant District Attorney Doreen M. Hoffmann wouldn't comment Monday on whether the Saab was the car that investigators seized. She said the Saab belonged to Roy's mother, Elizabeth Rockett.
The gun arrest was made at 2505 Lake Road in Porter, a vacation home owned by Rockett and his wife, who is Gregory Roy's mother. Hoffmann said Roy stayed there, while the Rocketts "came and went."
The search for Rockett at first centered in the Zoar Valley area of northern Cattaraugus County.
A lead from a citizen Saturday led Cattaraugus County sheriff's deputies to search farther south, Elliott said.
The body was covered with tree branches but had not been buried.
Elliott said the location is about 11 miles west of the Springville exit from the Route 219 Expressway, near or within East Otto State Forest.
An autopsy was conducted Monday morning in Erie County Medical Center. Elliott said he hopes for a positive identification of the remains, but Rockett's medical records must be sent from California to see if they match the body.
On May 11 in Niagara County Court, Hoffmann asked Judge Matthew J. Murphy III to order Roy to give a DNA sample for matching with material found on the gun. Defense attorney A. Joseph Catalano objected, and the case was adjourned for a week.
In the meantime, Hoffmann decided to withdraw the DNA request until psychologists rule on Roy's mental competency to stand trial on the gun charge.
The defense requested the mental evaluation at Roy's arraignment on the gun charge. A report is to be presented at Roy's next Porter Town Court appearance, scheduled for June 5.
Roy's bail, originally set at $150,000, was revoked and he was jailed without bail May 5, Elliott said.