Authorities hope to learn today the identity of the person whose remains were found Wednesday in a culvert under heavily traveled Freemans Bridge Road.
An autopsy that had been scheduled for Thursday was put off until this morning to give the medical examiner more time to work. That meant families of the missing had to wait one more day to learn if the remains were that of a loved one.
State Police Inv. Gloria Coppola, who has worked on several missing person cases, said Thursday she has received calls from multiple families wondering if the remains could be those of their lost family member. The list of the missing is long, she said, citing 79 cases in Schenectady, Saratoga and Montgomery counties.
There’s also the possibility the person found was from out of the area or was never reported missing, Coppola said.
Dental records of many of the missing are on file, as well as DNA from family members, Coppola said. Glenville police are leading the investigation.
One of the most well-known Schenectady County missing persons cases is that of 17-year-old Craig Frear, who went missing in June 2004 less than two miles from the site of Wednesday’s discovery. Frear’s family has been waiting for word, Frear’s brother Matt said Thursday evening.
The proximity had them thinking of Craig, he said, but the passage of so much time, as well as the numerous previous searches in that area that turned up nothing, make it unlikely the remains are those of his brother, Frear said. He did not know for certain, though, if the culvert had ever been checked.
“The family is together,” he said, “and we’re praying and hoping.
“We don’t even know, honest to God, what we’re praying for. If it’s not my brother, then it’s somebody else’s family member.”
The remains were found around noon Wednesday in a culvert that takes Horseman’s Creek under Freemans Bridge Road. A large area at either end of the culvert, including the creek and its banks, remained roped off Thursday.
Authorities have said little about the remains, only indicating they were heavily decomposed and covered in silt. Police agencies have declined to speculate on how long the remains were there.
Lutricia Steele went missing from Webster Street in Schenectady on May 1, 2008, a little more than three miles from Wednesday’s discovery. The mother of four was 27 when she was last seen. Steele’s sister, Andrea Wakefield, heard about Wednesday’s discovery through a missing persons Facebook group she follows.
“It’s definitely always on my mind,” said Wakefield, who lives in Utica. “We wonder daily. It’s never out of my head, just to think about her kids growing up without her, my kids growing up without her and the consequences of her being gone.”
Sometime later today, one family’s wondering may end.
“To live with this like we have, we don’t wish that on anybody else,” Matt Frear said. “It’s just a very, very terrible situation.”
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