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Search for missing Wellsville man ended in tragedy for family

WELLSVILLE – For three weeks this summer, family members, friends and even strangers worried and wondered what had happened to 24-year-old Zane Carter, who disappeared from the village while the annual Italian Festival was under way.

During that time, police from not only the local department but other agencies, including K-9 units, were joined by private citizens in searching all the nooks and crannies of the village and outlying areas, to no avail.

Rewards were offered, benefits were planned to raise even more reward money, and police received and investigated 280 leads, yet still there was no sign of Carter.

Finally, after obtaining search warrants for phone records and re-interviewing several people, on Aug. 21, village police located the young man’s body underneath a tarpaulin and brush near the former Sterling China Company lot, not far from where he had last been seen Aug. 7.

As his mother, Bernadette Carter, and a host of people who had searched for him watched, cried and hugged, Zane Carter’s body was transported from the site. Afterward, a funeral service was held at the high school gym.

During the course of the investigation into Carter’s disappearance, two arrests were made, neither in connection to his death, which was attributed to a drug overdose by two people who reportedly were with him when it occurred and who told police they panicked and hid his body.

Whether or not charges will be filed currently appears to be up in the air, with differing accounts given this week by police officials and the county prosecutor.

“I was ready to charge two individuals with misuse of a corpse and (county Prosecutor Bob Herron) told (Patrolman) Marsha (Eisenhart), ‘Don’t do it,'” Wellsville Lt. Ed Wilson said.

Eisenhart also indicated the matter had been referred to the prosecutor.

However, Herron said neither he, nor anyone in his office, advised Wellsville police not to file charges in relation to the Carter case.

“We’ve had no conversation with anybody indicating no charges would be filed. They haven’t submitted any investigative file or anything to even consider,” Herron said in response.

Meanwhile, Herron said he anticipates seeing more overdose cases and emphasized, “Nobody is going to be prosecuted or held responsible for doing the right thing, which is getting emergency treatment or medical care.”

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