Amanda Putorti, a 17-year-old New York girl who was missing since March, was found hiding in a secret compartment of a wall on July 30 following a tip, state troopers said. She was there willingly, and a sex offender and two others are charged with helping her hide. New York State Police
Amanda Putorti, a 17-year-old New York girl who was missing since March, was found hiding in a secret compartment of a wall on July 30 following a tip, state troopers said. She was there willingly, and a sex offender and two others are charged with helping her hide. New York State Police

National

Cops find missing girl stowed in wall — and sex offender helping her hide, NY troopers say

By Jared Gilmour

jgilmour@mcclatchy.com

July 31, 2018 01:01 PM

She’d last been seen in the early morning hours on March 1, authorities said.

But 17-year-old Amanda Putorti was nowhere to be found the next day when her parents checked her bedroom at their home in Richmondville, New York, according to New York State Police. Troopers said there was a ladder next to her window and that medicine and other belongings had disappeared as well, the Albany Times-Union reports.

Days later, Putorti called her sister and father to tell them she was doing fine, the Times-Union reports — but she wouldn’t reveal where she was. And despite exhaustive investigation, including help from family, friends and Putorti’s boyfriend, authorities didn’t make much headway for months, state police said.

That changed in late July, when cops got a tip that Putorti could be hiding at a home in nearby Preston Hollow, New York. The tip suggested the missing teenage was at the home willingly, troopers said.

John Winnie, 34
New York State Police
Jeremy Schaefer, 38
New York State Police

Police showed up at the home on July 30 — and sure enough, Putorti was there. She was hidden in a small compartment in a wall at the residence, troopers said. Putorti had cloistered herself there to avoid detection with help from a handful of others, who now face criminal charges, according to state police.

John Winnie, a 34-year-old sex offender, and Jeremy Schaefer, 38, were both arrested on suspicion of helping hide the girl, troopers said. Authorities arrested an unidentified 17-year-old male as well.

All three suspects are Preston Hollow residents.

Each face charges of second-degree obstruction of governmental administration and endangering the welfare of a child, authorities said.

Winnie was convicted in 2008 of having sex with a female under the age of 17, according to the New York sex offender registry. He was sentenced to six years probation, registry records said.

He’s classified as a level two offender, which means he has a moderate risk of reoffending and is required to register as a sex offender for life.

Troopers thanked the public for coming forward with a sighting that helped them track Putorti down.

For decades, the bones of children lay near a home for unmarried mothers and their babies. It took an amateur historian and the horrific memories of those who had lived there to bring the tragedy to light.

By