NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) - Niagara Falls has seen more than its share of heartbreak in recent weeks, with the murder of 5-year-old Bella Tennant, and the disappearance of a young mother of three.
State Police are waiting for DNA results to determine if a torso pulled from the gorge near the Rainbow Bridge last month is the body of Loretta Gates. She was just running across the street to the convenience store around 11 p.m. on August 25. Since then, this 30-year-old mom of three has vanished.
Her sister, Lisa Gates, said, "We just want to hear her voice, see her face, let us know she's okay."
Some of Loretta's physical characteristics match a headless torso recovered from the Niagara River. Police are comparing DNA from her parents with the body.
"They told them to prepare for the worst. Because of what's happened, that things match up," Lisa said.
Loretta's disappearance and Bella Tennant's murder don't signal a trend, according to Niagara Falls Detective Lt. Michael Trane. But the people who live here say crime, in general, is out of control.
Stephanie Rodriguez said, "Overall, I would honestly say I've been in a lot safer places."
Bocce Block Club President Arthur Briglio said, "It's all related. You've got the gangs that come in here, and what do they do? They promote the drugs. And to get this money to buy these drugs, what do they do? They commit the crimes."
It's so bad, Briglio says, there have been muggings, armed robberies, and a rape within a block of his house. And that's only in the last few weeks.
"At eleven o'clock at night, you stay in the house. You don't go outside in the alleys or walk down these streets unless somebody's watching you," Briglio said.
Rodriguez added, "I'm always looking over my shoulder, see who's following me. Always grab my kids' hands."
Briglio noted, "What we need is more police around here, and more involvement. We need more people on the street to be more aware of what's happening in this city."
Niagara Falls Police continue to investigate Loretta Gates as a missing person case. State Police are doing the DNA comparison on the body; they could have the results back by Friday.
There is another Lake Effect Snow Warning in effect for Erie, Wyoming, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties from Thursday through early Friday.
Lake Effect Snow Warnings return today with the chance for an additional foot for some areas.
A 26-year-old male employee of Ying's Wings and Things told police that Haibo Jiang, also known as Jimmy Ying, choked him until he passed out.
A Good Samaritan died Wednesday while trying to assist the driver of a tractor trailer who got stuck in the snow.
The Wyoming County Sheriff’s Office says a tractor trailer crashed on Route 39, in the Town of Eagle.
State Education Commissioner John King is on his way to Buffalo. He is coming for a forum on the Common Core curriculum, downtown Thursday.