NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. -- The same park where a vigil was held Friday night for Loretta Jo Gates became a crime scene Sunday.
Niagara Falls police responded to Duck Island at Hyde Park around 11:30 Sunday morning, after two people found a garbage bag floating in the lake.
They pulled it to shore and found human remains inside.
Police later positively identified them as belonging to Gates.
While upsetting, it’s helped the family through their mourning.
"In a way, I was relieved,” said Gates’ aunt Peggy Leone. “It’s kind of like having a puzzle and you have a missing piece and once you find that piece, it's all there, it helps.
“(Her mother) has a closure, and we can move on and help her with the rest of the investigation and catch this monster that did it," said Gates’ aunt Michele Eodice.
For the family, the next step will be finding the person responsible for her murder. They say the crime has made the family question safety in their neighborhood.
"The detectives told my sister, it's going to be a long road,” said Eodice. “Very long road ahead of her. You know until you find that person, how many more people is this going to happen to until they figure out who's responsible for this? You know it's scary to know that somebody is out there doing this and you don’t know if you're safe."
YNN spoke with Gates' father just hours before police identified her remains. He remained positive about the investigation, holding out hope.
"I want anybody to come out, anybody that knows a little bit, just come out, somebody knows something, somebody’s been there, somebody's seen it, somebody helped and I just wish they would come out," said Arthur Gates.
Gates’ aunts say funeral arrangements still have not been made as police continue the investigation.
Meantime, the family says they are working to put together a benefit for Loretta’s children.