Flossie Wilbur house

Flossie Wilbur of Angelica disappeared from her home in 1985. A confession from a neighbor in 2020 led to a search near Almond Dam, but officials report the case is still open.

ANGELICA — A 2020 confession and a search for the remains of a woman who disappeared in 1985 turned up empty, investigators reported.

New York State Police reported this week that the case of then-septuagenarian Flossie Wilbur of Angelica who vanished without a trace 36 years ago hit another dead end after a confession from the alleged killer and a massive search in 2020.

James O’Callaghan, the Troop A public information officer, told the Times Herald that after receiving a confession from a former neighbor, crews spent several days searching the area around the Almond Dam for the body.

According to media reports, Angelica man David Sherk, then in a medical facility in Wyoming County with terminal brain cancer, allegedly confessed to the crime and told law enforcement where to search for Wilbur’s body.

“We did that search based on some information we had obtained,” he said. “No, they did not find anything — they were hoping to find something at least to bring some closure to the case.”

Officials are hopeful that they will get another break in the case.

“Depending on information they receive, they may try it again,” he said, hoping to find a better location to search. “It’s still a cold case, it’s still an open case.”

Almost four decades ago, the case opened with unpurchased newspapers.

According to the Times Herald archives, the last anyone saw Wilbur was at an auction on Aug. 24 in the village of Angelica. She was reported missing on Aug. 31 by a clerk at the village market who reported that Wilbur suspiciously had not picked up her newspapers in about a week.

The officer who responded to the call found the door to Wilbur’s house unlocked and he entered, finding no sign of Wilbur, forced entry or a struggle. A faithful journal she kept indicated no plans to leave the area, and entries stopped at about the time of her disappearance. The shotgun she kept was in its place and unfired.

Officers did not believe she went far, as her 1985 Ford Escort was sitting in her driveway, however, with bags of groceries loaded with since-spoiled perishable food. The last hard trace found of Wilbur was a receipt from Harrington’s Grocery in Belfast, indicating she shopped there shortly before 6 p.m. Aug. 24 for the groceries in her vehicle.

After the first check, troopers, forest rangers and a large corps of volunteers covered the 3-by-2-mile area around her home, with state police helicopters and numerous dogs ranging from local drug-sniffing dogs to bloodhounds and cadaver-sniffing dogs called in to assist with the search for more than a week.

Over the following weeks, leads continued to roll in. One of the leads reported in the Times Herald and followed by investigators involved a report of a rotting smell near a West Almond pond — which turned out to be spoiled meat in a discarded refrigerator.

Village police told the Times Herald 36 years ago that Wilbur lived alone and “pretty much kept to herself,” with few friends and bad blood with some of her neighbors — Sherk lived next door. There were initially rumors she had a brother in Maine, but authorities could not track down any living relatives.

In 2016, the case was featured by troopers in their “Cold Case Tuesday” series, but drew few new leads.

It’s highly unlikely Wilbur will ever be found alive, as she would be around 110 years old today, but authorities are still following leads on the case.

Anyone with information regarding this case should contact the New York State Police in Amity by calling (585) 268-7085, and callers are asked to refer to SJS#3029349.

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

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