Head and arm of woman found in bag


Niagara Falls Torso search The Niagara Regional Police expanded their search for clues in relation to the torso that was discovered in the Niagara River on Wednesday August 29th, 2012. (MIKE DIBATTISTA /QMI AGENCY)

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – Police made a grim discovery Sunday into the death of Loretta Gates, whose torso was found in the Niagara River on Aug. 29.

Sources said Gates’ head and arm were found in a bag floating near Duck Island by a passerby just before noon.

The passerby noticed the bag in the lake and pulled it to shore. Inside were human remains.

In a statement released Sunday evening, Niagara Falls, N.Y., cops said: "The remains have been positively identified as belonging to homicide victim Loretta Jo Gates."

Sources close to the case indicated that Gates’ head and an arm were inside the bag, but investigators did not comment on the contents of the bag.

Authorities in Niagara Falls, Ont., are also trying to confirm that an arm and leg recovered in the whirlpool rapids Friday afternoon also belong to Gates. Those remains were spotted by a fisherman and retrieved by Niagara Regional Police.

A source with knowledge of the case said the discovery of body parts in the Falls may be a break in the case.

Authorities confirmed Friday that DNA testing showed that the torso of a woman found floating in the lower Niagara River on Aug. 29 was the missing Niagara Falls, N.Y., mother of three.

Just after noon Friday, investigators were notified a DNA sample from Gates, 30, matched DNA recovered by Canadian law enforcement agencies from the torso.

At that time, investigators said they were trying to determine where Gates may have been killed, noting that locating a "crime scene" might yield key forensic evidence that would assist the investigation.

"We don’t know where she died, we’re looking for a crime scene because hopefully there will be some evidence there," the source said.

Gates was last seen on Aug. 25. when she left her home to go to a convenience store across the street.

Police were drawn to Gates as their possible victim because she appeared to fit the profile that Niagara Regional Police had released at the time the torso was discovered.

Canadian law enforcement officials said the torso appeared to be that of a "white female, between the ages of 31 and 56."

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