Body found in Salamanca Erie Railyard

The driveway entrance to the lot of the Erie Railroad’s former train yard. A 26-year-old Buffalo, man died in the train yard Friday morning via self-inflicted knife wounds, Salamanca police said.

SALAMANCA — The Salamanca Police Department says a man found stabbed to death Friday morning died by his own hand.

The body of a 26-year-old Buffalo man was discovered at approximately 6 a.m. Friday in the mostly-abandoned rail yard off North Main Street, Salamanca Police Chief Troy Westfall told the Olean Times Herald Monday.

While the nature of the death led police to initially investigative it as a homicide — causing much speculation in the community — Westfall said the case is a suicide and no foul play is suspected.

“There were knife wounds that we determined, in the end, were self-inflicted, but we had to investigate it because you don’t know,” Westfall said. “After a thorough investigation, it was determined the individual had in fact taken their own life.”

Westfall, who confirmed the discovery on Saturday but did not provide details until Monday, noted the manner of death was “very different” from most suicides, but police are confident it was a suicide and that there is no danger to the public.

He declined to confirm the location of the man’s self-inflicted wounds “out of respect” for the man’s family.

The Times Herald is not naming the man because his death has been ruled a suicide.

It’s believed the man, who Westfall said had many health problems, drove to Salamanca from Buffalo and died sometime during the early morning hours of Friday. As for why the man chose to take his own life in Salamanca, Westfall said the man often camped in nearby Allegany State Park as a child with his family.

“So, he was apparently familiar with this area,” said Westfall, adding Salamanca police have no record of previous interactions with the man.

The man was found lying on the ground beside his parked vehicle fewer than 50 yards into the former train yard of the Erie Railroad, which is now owned by the Southern Tier Railroad Extension Authority.

The discovery was made by a passerby, who did not approach and believed the man was simply unconscious when first reporting it to Salamanca police. Officers responding to the scene then discovered the man was deceased and cordoned off the scene.

The Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office assisted.

Westfall said even police initially feared the case was a drug-related murder, “considering what we’ve gone through here in the last year.”

Another Buffalo man, 22-year-old Juwaan Holt, was found stabbed to death last December in a Broad Street home in what the Cattaraugus County District Attorney’s Office has deemed a drug-related robbery. Brandon Francis, 22, of Salamanca, was been charged with Holt’s murder.

However, Westfall said several factors led police to determine Friday’s death was a suicide.

He said there were no signs of a struggle inside the car — where the man is believed to have begun injuring himself — and the only footprints around the car were that of the responding officers. He added the knife was also located right next to the man’s body.

Westfall also said the blood-spatter patterns were consistent with that of a suicide.

“If there’s any interruptions in it, that shows someone else could have been standing there,” he said, “and there was nothing like that.”

He noted other pieces of the investigation, like speaking with the man’s family, also have police confident the death was a suicide.

Westfall said he understands the public’s concerns the death could be a homicide, but “you got to look at the whole picture and piece it all together.”

(Contact reporter Tom Dinki at Follow him on Twitter, @tomdinki)