The Telegram
  • Police explore history of man, caretaker in Little Falls death

  • Investigators believe they know whose skeletal remains were found behind a Little Falls home last week.

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  • Investigators believe they know whose skeletal remains were found behind a Little Falls home last week
    Although a positive identification is still pending DNA analysis, state police officials on Monday said the remains are most likely those of Donald Wichelns, who would be 71 if he was still alive today.
    “We’re pretty confident that it’s a strong possibility that’s who it is, based on our investigation,” state police Senior Investigator Timothy Blaise said.
    Because of the mystery still surrounding Wichelns’ death, police would like to talk to anybody who might have known Wichelns and his last known caretaker, Tammy Lynn Barthelmess, Blaise said. Her maiden name is Sterling.
    Barthelmess was the last known person Wichelns lived with, and it was her property at 59 Flint Ave. where the purported remains of Wichelns were found Wednesday afternoon.
    The remains were in a cage-like crate that was tightly wrapped in a blanket, covered with cluttered debris and placed outside against the vacant home, Blaise said. Any autopsy has not yet determined how Wichelns’ died.
    “We’d like to talk to anybody that might have been acquainted with him or known him, or anybody that might have seen him and Tammy together,” Blaise said. “We know he was living with Tammy and she was taking caring of him.”
    The last time police have any record of anyone encountering Wichelns was in 2004, Blaise said. But because police don’t yet know when Wichelns died, it’s possible that someone might have encountered him sometime after that time.
    Investigators also have already spoken with Barthelmess, Blaise said.
    Anybody with information on Wichelns or Barthelmess is asked to called investigators at the state police barracks in Herkimer at 866-7275.

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