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After Diver's death, investigation gained steam

Timeline of bike path rapist investigation after Joan Diver's death

Sept. 29, 2006  (Friday)
Joan Diver, mother of 4, disappears while going for a run in a bike path in Clarence, NY.

12:51 p.m
Her husband reports her missing after he gets a call from the daycare center where she was supposed to pick up her child.

He takes his bicycle to the bike path to look for her, yelling her name.   He spots her vehicle, a blue Ford Explorer, in a parking lot off Salt Road. The vehicle was found later in a parking lot on Shisler Road.

Sept. 30, 2006
Sheriff calls off search temporarily.

Oct. 1, 2006 (Sunday)
Volunteers from the Boy Scout troop search the area. 

Her body was discovered in a patch of thick brush about 30 yards from the path in Newstead, roughly three miles from where authorities found her blue Ford Explorer, which was parked on Shisler Road.

October 3, 2006
Authorities are intrigued with the eerie coincidence that Diver was murdered 16 years to the day Linda Yalem was murdered by the bike path rapist.

Similarities from past BPR cases include:

  • Joan Diver died from blunt-force trauma and from being strangled with some kind of wire, cord or rope.
  • They believe she was killed between 8:55 and 12:30 p.m. The BPR struck in the morning.
  • Her body was partially clothed. 

November 2006
Bike Path Rapist Task Force formed between Amherst Police Department, Buffalo Police, Erie County Sheriff’s Department and N.Y. State Police.  

Neutral office was set up in Buffalo, where the agencies shared their files. 

Dec. 22, 2006  
State Police Investigators take a list of 81 Hispanics questioned by the Amherst Police Department for the murder of University of Buffalo student Linda Yalem.  Altemio Sanchez’ name was highlighted and flagged for further investigation because he lived and worked relatively close to the sites of rape.

Jan. 4 – 5, 2007
Investigators Delano, Rozansky and Redmonds begin to scrutinize Altemio Sanchez after reviewing a 1981 rape case.

This case caught their eye largely because three days after the attack, the victim spotted a man resembling her attacker at the Boulevard Mall in Amherst. She followed the man, saw him leave the scene in a white vehicle, jotted down the license plate number and called police.

Authorities tracked down the vehicle, which was registered to Sanchez's uncle, Wilfredo Sanchez Caraballo, then a resident of Buffalo's West Side.

Caraballo told police that the car had no insurance and was not used in a long time. Police took photos of the uncle and the car, which were shown to the victim. Law enforcement sources say she recognized the car but not the man.

Jan. 8, 2007
Altemio Sanchez’ name comes up again when the list of Hispanic names was cross-checked with the list of Hispanics arrested for patronizing prostitutes.

Jan. 9, 2007
Investigators find out that Altemio Sanchez is related to a Wilfredo Caraballo who was questioned for 1981 rape case. They learn Caraballo had moved out of state.

Investigators Rozansky and Chief Patronik interview Margarita Torres (Altemio’s Aunt).  She directs them to her brother Heriberto Caraballo.

Jan. 10, 2007
Detectives interview a Heriberto Caraballo, brother of Wilfredo and an uncle of Altemio Sanchez. They take a buccal swab from Heriberto for DNA testing. 

Wilfredo Caraballo calls Detective Rozansky and tells him that back in 1981, his nephew Altemio Sanchez had been driving his car when it was seen by a rape victim at the Blvd mall.

Jan. 11, 2007
Results from Heriberto Caraballo’s DNA swab reveal that he is a close relative of the bike path rapist.

Detectives learn that Sanchez had an expired license for a gun.  Detectives visit Altemio Sanchez’s home to recover a gun to get DNA samples but don’t.

Jan. 12, 2007
Police obtain a search warrant for Sanchez’s home to check on a gun whose license had expired. 

They attempt to get a DNA sample from the gun and but there was very little evidence.

Jan. 13, 2007
Police begin surveillance on Altemio Sanchez.

The follow Sanchez and his wife Kathleen to a restaurant Sole and obtain a glass he used.  They also follow him to Border’s bookstore and obtain a coffee cup he used.  

Jan. 15, 2007
Altemio Sanchez is arrested after an intense 10 days of evidence gathering that all fell into place.

Jan. 17, 2007
Sanchez pleads not guilty to two counts of murder.  

From the DNA evidence gathered from previous cases, authorities knew several things about the bike path rapist:

  • He's a white male now in his 40s or 50s.
  • He's 5' 6" to 5' 9" tall. At the time of the earlier attacks, he had dark hair, a mustache and thick eyebrows.
  • A company that uses DNA to determine ancestry has claimed he's 51 percent European [white] and 30 percent Native American, along with some other influences.
  • His blood type is O.
  • He lost his ability to produce sperm some time between the last two known rapes, which occurred in November 1992 and October 1994. He could have had a vasectomy, testicular cancer, or some other illness. Or, he might have lost that ability through chemotherapy or heavy drug use.
  • DNA does did not match any of those in the criminal data base.

Report surfaces that Anthony Capozzi may have been wrongly imprisoned for rapes committed by bike path rapist.

March 27, 2007
DNA evidence of rape kit slides stored at Erie County Medical Center were found. The DNA found matches that of Altemio Sanchez.

April 2, 2007
Capozzi is exonerated after 22 years in prison. 

April 3, 2007
Capozzi goes home.

May 16, 2007
Altemio Sanchez pleads guilty to the murders of Linda Yalem, Majane Mazure and Joan Diver.