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Press Release

Two Men Charged in Connection with Murder in Chautauqua County

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. – United States Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that JONATHAN CONKLIN, 43, and CHARLES SANFORD, 30, were arrested on August 22, 2014 and charged in a federal criminal complaint with carjacking, use of a firearm and transportation of a stolen vehicle.  If convicted of the charges, the defendants face a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a fine of $250,000.

According to Assistant United States Attorney Timothy C. Lynch, who is handling the prosecution of this matter, the charges against CONKLIN and SANFORD pertain to their involvement in the robbery and murder of Mary Whitaker.  The complaint alleges that on August 20, 2014, CONKLIN and SANFORD went to Mary Whitaker’s home in Sherman, New York with the intention of robbing her.  Soon after Ms. Whitaker answered the door at her home, the defendants shot and killed her.  Then they stole her vehicle and drove it to Erie, Pennsylvania, where they were arrested on August 22, 2014.

Both defendants were ordered detained pending a further hearing, scheduled for August 28, 2014. 

The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The filing of a federal criminal complaint was the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace, the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney David W. Foley, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian P. Boetig, and the City of Erie (Pennsylvania) Police Department, under the direction of Chief Randy M. Bowers.


Updated November 19, 2014