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Father continues digging as son's disappearance hits six years

Father continues digging as son's disappearance hits six years

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John Schaff is not giving up.

Six years after his 23-year-old son, Jonathan Schaff, disappeared after a night out in the village of Granville, the elder Schaff continues to hope that the next tip is the one that breaks the case open.

Just this week, John Schaff passed on information to State Police about a man a relative encountered who claimed he “knew” what happened to his son when he disappeared on Jan. 18, 2014. The information originated with information from an inmate in Washington County Jail, he said.

“I don’t know if it’s just a rumor or what,” he said. “Maybe they do really know something.”

Jonathan Schaff was last seen walking east on Main Street in Granville around 4:30 a.m. the day he disappeared after spending several hours drinking at a Main Street bar. He was going to catch a ride home to Fair Haven, Vt. with a couple with whom he was walking.

The couple, though, told police that Schaff walked ahead of them as they slowed to light cigarettes, and when they arrived at the Loomis Trucking parking lot where their vehicle was, he couldn’t be found. His cellphone was later found by searchers in the cab of a tractor-trailer that was parked in the lot.

Police at first believed that Schaff fell in the rain-swollen Mettawee River, which runs next to the parking lot.

But when no remains could be found after searches of the river and its banks, the case transitioned to a criminal investigation, headed by Vermont State Police because Schaff was last seen walking into Vermont.

Schaff had lived in Granville and had extensive family ties there. He spent the hours before his disappearance drinking at what was then known as The Riverside Pub in Granville, getting in a fight with another patron before he left. That patron has been investigated by police, but has not been accused of involvement in the disappearance.

The rumor mill has swirled in the years since as police periodically search flooded stone quarries in the region as well as woods and fields. There have been no indications he is still alive.

Vermont State Police Detective Sgt. Henry Alberico said investigators received a few tips last year, which led to some searches that included diving at quarries. But they did not turn up any evidence, and he said police still don’t know what happened to Schaff. No persons of interest or suspects have been identified, he said.

“It’s still a very active investigation,” he said. “We still get calls from time to time and we follow up on all of them. Hopefully it will lead to something.”

Granville Police Chief Ernie Bassett said few new leads have been received in recent years, but he is hopeful that someday the break will come that will solve the mystery.

“It’s a case we frequently talk about, hoping that someday we can get some answers for Jon’s family,” Bassett said.

John Schaff said he will not rest until he finds out what happened to his son. But he said he has heard nothing from police in over a year.

“This has been going on a long time. We really want answers,” he said.

Anyone with information in the case can contact Granville Police at 518-642-1414, New York State Police at 518-692-3015 or Vermont State Police at 802-773-9101.

Don Lehman covers police and court matters, Warren County government and the outdoors. He can be reached at 518-742-3224 or dlehman@poststar.com

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reporter - crimes & courts, public safety and Warren County government

Don Lehman covers crime, Warren County government and the outdoors for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on poststar.com/app/blogs.

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