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Search for city woman continues

January 23, 2009
By MICHAEL ANICH, The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - City police detectives who recently investigated leads in the disappearance of city woman Kellisue M. Ackernecht in the Syracuse area found nothing substantial, Johnstown Police Chief Gregory Horning said earlier this week.

Ackernecht was reported missing by her husband Oct. 1.

"We've had interviews with some people in the Syracuse area," Johnstown Police Chief Gregory Horning said Monday. "Nothing has panned out."

The police official said his department continues to investigate all possibilities in the disappearance, which he said still can't be labeled a criminal matter.

"Me personally, and the whole department, we're hoping she will still be found alive and well," Horning said.

Horning said he sent two investigators - Dave Gilbo and Tom Oare - to Syracuse for a couple days recently to investigate leads. He said they interviewed two or three people.

"We didn't get any positive results on that," the chief said.

Ackernecht, 37, of 330 W. Main St., was reported missing by her husband, Jayson, in the early morning hours of Oct. 1.

Thomas Kilcullen of Ames, one of Ackernecht's brothers, said today he understands Kellisue "knew a guy" locally who moved to Syracuse, which is why police might have headed there.

He said his family continues to learn his sister didn't have an ideal life at her city home.

"She had a rough life," Kilcullen said. "It was a lot worse than anybody knew."

Kilcullen, a service technician, said he is still "begging for answers" and wants anyone from the public to contact him by e-mail at kilcullentom@yahoo.com.

He said his company - Liftech Equipment Companies of Syracuse - is putting his sister's image on vehicles in Central New York.

Ackernecht left her job at Rite Aid in Amsterdam just after 9:30 p.m. Sept. 30, Johnstown police said. She was reported missing about the same time the 1998 Saturn sedan she was driving was found engulfed in flames at West Montgomery and Chestnut streets, also known as Frog Hollow.

City fire officials have said the vehicle was too burned to gain any evidence, but haven't closed their investigation.

Johnstown police, state police and others have aided in the probe, which has included a search by helicopter that hovered over the Frog Hollow area in October. Nothing tied to the case has been found. The city Police Department has done several searches with dogs and used forest rangers. Johnstown police and the St. Johnsville Dive Team have combed the banks of the Cayadutta Creek leading to Sammonsville.

Horning said his department, in conjunction with fire officials, also recently conducted two controlled burns on vehicles similar to the Saturn at the Fulton County Fire Training Center to learn how the fire may have started.

"We learned that the fire starting in the actual engine compartment [among the test vehicles] was consistent with [the Ackernecht fire]," Horning said. "It [the Ackernecht fire] may have started in the engine."

Horning said his agency has worked closely with state police on the fire and "because the car burned up so completely," the reason it started is still inconclusive.

The chief said Kellisue Ackernecht has not contacted anyone, not even her husband or 10-year-old daughter.

"I wish she would just call us," said Horning, who insisted there is still no evidence of criminal activity.

Ackernecht is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 135 pounds. Her family says she has "short brown, naturally curly hair with red highlights."

The family also says Kellisue was last seen wearing tan slacks, a black shirt, new white sneakers, tan stockings and brown glasses.

People may call Johnstown police at 736-4021 with confidential information on the case.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at johnstown@leaderherald.com.

 
 

 

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