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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2014

    NY - Stephen Bender, 30, & Michael Forness, 29, Allegany, 6 Feb 1978

    New York State Police Press Release

    Cold Case Tuesday – The New York State Police in Olean continue to investigate the 1978 homicide of Stephen C. Bender and Michael R. Forness in the town of Allegany, NY.

    On February 6, 1978, 30-year-old Stephen C. Bender and 29-year-old Michael R. Forness were found murdered at the Wing Hollow Ski Corporation. Bender and Forness, both employees, were found in the early morning hours, shot multiple times. Numerous leads were examined and an extensive search of the surrounding area was conducted.

    A floor mounted safe had been removed from the Ski Lodge on the property and contained an estimated $18,000 in currency. The safe was later recovered beneath the Vandalia Bridge in the Allegheny River. The safe was empty.

    The investigation is ongoing as the State Police continue to receive tips and information pertaining to the circumstances surrounding this incident. To this day, the identity of the perpetrators of this crime are unknown.

    New look at Ski Wing murders - April 2002

    Police theorize a third employee, a janitor, likely escaped death when he fell asleep watching TV at home and didn't show up for work until about 3 a.m. He was supposed to report at midnight, about the time his colleagues were shot.

    The victims, Stephen Bender, 30, and Michael Forness, 29, had come in off the slopes when one of the grooming vehicles broke down. They were each shot three times, once in the back of the head, execution style.
    The safe was sent to a Canadian lab in hopes of identifying the tool the killers used to cut a hole in its side. Composite sketches were released of two of three men seen in the area where the safe was dumped.

    There were promising leads … some substantial physical evidence,said Inv. Stofer, now a part-time investigator with the Cattaraugus County District Attorneys Office.

    But the leads ran cold and the killers were never found.
    State police combing for clues in 1978 double murder

    The two men who were killed were taken by surprise during a robbery, according to New York State Police senior investigator Gulio Giardini.

    “There was a floor mounted safe that was taken from the ski lodge, and it contained approximately $18,000 and currency,” Giardini said. “We believe it would’ve taken at least a couple people to grab it. We believe the safe weighed approximately 175 pounds. It was a floor mounted safe so it would’ve had to been pulled from the floor.”

    The employee who found the men when he showed up for his shift in the early morning hours of Feb. 6 is not a suspect, although investigators still believe it could have been an inside job.

    “We think there might of been some prior knowledge, and we also believe that they were surprised and again, removing that safe from the floor, that would take some work,” Giardini said. “That’s not something that you’d be able to do in just a few minutes. That would take some time to remove that from the floor.”
    Untrue Rumors About Double Homicide Cold Case - June 2012

    There's a very in-depth conversation about these murders on Topix. With over 7,000 comments, it will take awhile to go through it all but some of the users provide more links to the story.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Authorities revive Wing Hollow horror story


    An editorial in the Feb. 7, 1978, edition of the Times Herald called for swift justice.

    Almost four decades later, that’s yet to be done.

    New York State Police last week — releasing a new “Cold Case Tuesday” storyline — recalled the Wing Hollow ski resort double murder of Feb. 6, 1978, which left two slope groomers dead after they apparently surprised burglars successfully chiseling out an office floor safe containing some $18,000 from solid concrete.

    Evidence still isn’t concrete, while leads do surface sporadically, said state police Senior Inv. Gulio Giardini, who is assigned to the case.
    Although it was highlighted on a state police media-resource website, the case has no new “real update,” Giardini said, noting “Cold Case Tuesday” is meant to refresh public memories of investigations that have slowed or become dormant in hopes of uncovering more details.

    “We continue to field calls. People who reach out to us with tips, we follow those up,” he said. “Unfortunately, the case is nearly 39 years old. We don’t have any concrete evidence going forward as far as making an arrest. We certainly keep our mind open. We have an ambitious unit here at Machias and Olean.”
    “I don’t know I would say it’s surprising,” Giardini said when asked his feelings about no confession or smoking gun in nearly 39 years. “I would say it’s disappointing. Certainly, the family members want closure.”

    Giardini still has confidence. “Conscience,” he said, should ultimately compel someone to come forward.

    “Someone out there has information about the case,” the senior investigator said.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Cold Case Files: The Ski Wing murders of 1978


    Michael R. Forness and Stephen C. Bender walked into exactly the wrong situation at exactly the wrong time on the icy cold morning of Feb. 6, 1978. They paid for it with their lives.

    Nearly 39 winters later, people in the Southern Tier still talk about the “Ski Wing murders” that remain unsolved.

    Michele Bush, Forness’ younger sister, said she and her family never will get over what happened that night.

    “I’m not going to say I specifically think about it every single day, but it’s always there,” said Bush, now an Arizona resident. “A few years ago, there were all kinds of rumors that an arrest was finally going to be made. When that didn’t happen, it was really hard on our family.”

    Michele Bush said she is disappointed that police never found her brother’s killer. She said the lack of arrests was especially painful for her late father, John Forness, a Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War who was well known in the Southern Tier for his volunteer activities. John Forness, who worked for the U.S. Postal Service and ran a rehabilitation facility for hawks and other wild birds, died in 2012 at age 87. His widow, Mary, now lives in a nursing home.

    “After it happened, my father would say, ‘I wish it had been me, and not Michael,’ ” Bush recalled. “My mother took it hard, too. She left my brother’s room exactly as it was for at least 20 years after he was killed.”
    The investigation remains active, said Gulio Giardini, a senior investigator with State Police, and Lori P. Rieman, the Cattaraugus County district attorney.

    “They had to be professional criminals with some basic knowledge of the business …knowledge that there would be a lot of money in the safe, that it was buried in the floor and they would need certain tools to get it out,” Rieman said. “These guys were prepared to kill innocent people to hide what they did, and they apparently have stayed quiet about it all these years.”

    Many people who live in and around Olean “still call us with tips, and we still do pursue them,” said Lt. Brian Ratajczak, who works in the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation at Troop A in Batavia.

    “We looked at some very bad guys over the years,” Stofer said, “including mob guys, professional safe crackers … very nasty people.”

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