Josephine Chatraw ** Syracuse, NY  *  1984

Josephine Chatraw

Missing since July 29, 1984 from Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York
Classification: Endangered Missing

Vital Statistics

Age at Time of Disappearance: 36 years old
Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 5'3"; 125 lbs.
Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Brown, long hair; brown eyes. Thin build.
Dentals: Available in NCIC
Circumstances of Disappearance
Josephine last spoke with her sister from her home at 206 Seymour St, Syracuse, New York on July 29, 1984. Josephine was upset regarding a dispute with her boyfriend, Phillip Whaley. She was reported missing August 3, 1984, by one of her sisters.
The last person to acknowledge seeing Chatraw was Phillip Whaley, who was her boyfriend for several years and who lived one block from her apartment.
On July 29 Chatraw visited Whaley at his 156 Seymour Street apartment. Whaley told police they argued, then she left on her own accord. He last saw her walking alone on Seymour Street. One of Chatraw's neighbors saw Whaley beating Chatraw up at 01.00 earlier that day in the hallway outside her apartment. Shortly before the assault, Chatraw told one of her sisters that Whaley had threatened to kill her and hide her so no one could find her.
Whaley was arrested on charges of first-degree unlawful imprisonment and third-degree assault several weeks before Chatraw disappeared. He allegedly held her against her will in his apartment.
Philip Whaley went to trial in 1996, charged with kidnapping and murdering Chatraw.
Shortly after Chatraw disappeared Philip Whaley admitted causing her death and burying her in some woods near Central Square, a friend of Whaley's testified at the trial. Whaley was sentenced to 50 years to life in state prison for the homicide of Chatraw and another missing woman, Margaret "Peggy" Reiley. The bodies of the two women were never found.

If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:

Syracuse Police Department

Agency Case Number: 84-88980

NCIC Number: M-128859064
Please refer to this number when contacting any agency with information regarding this case.

Source Information:
Syracuse Herald-Journal
Syracuse Police Department

Views: 793


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Comment by Brenda on November 23, 2011 at 1:37pm

DA: Philip Whaley couldn't lead investigators to remains from Syracuse murders
Published: Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 12:46 PM Updated: Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 1:08 PM
By Douglass Dowty / The Post-Standard The Post-Standard
Follow 0

Search in West Amboy

Neighbors believe that a search is underway on this property located at 93 Cusson Drive in the town of W. Amboy for one of two Philip Whaley murder victims. Video by John Berry / The Post-Standard

Watch video

Syracuse, NY -- The bodies of two women killed by Philip Whaley more than 18 years ago will likely never be found, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said this morning.

Whaley, 61, who is in bad health and serving a 50-year prison sentence, brought investigators to a rural, wooded area off Kusson Road in Amboy after agreeing to show authorities where he had buried a Josephine Chatraw after her slaying in 1984.

» Read more about the recent search for Whaley's victim

Investigators searched there Nov. 15 and again Tuesday, with no luck. The land belongs to one of Whaley's relatives, Fitzpatrick said. But the killer could not pinpoint the location he had buried Chatraw.

A year ago, a neighbor reported seeing a bone that did not look like animal remains, but investigators could not find that area, either.

Whaley's other victim, Peggy Reilly, was killed in 1992 and her body was placed in a garage adjacent to Whaley's mother's house, off Interstate 81 in the Pulaski area, Fitzpatrick said.

But that garage was demolished many years ago and the area has since been developed, Fitzpatrick said. The district attorney said Reilly's remains might have ended up in a landfill.

Whaley's murder trial was the first in Onondaga County using DNA evidence. He was also the first county murder suspect convicted without investigators ever finding the bodies of his victims.

Comment by Brenda on November 18, 2011 at 5:09pm
Comment by Brenda on November 18, 2011 at 4:54pm


After 18 years, police searching for victims' bodies in Oswego County

Published: Thursday, November 17, 2011, 9:13 PM Updated: Friday, November 18, 2011, 7:35 AM
By John O'Brien / The Post-Standard

The Post-Standard, 1996
Philip Whaley

Investigators from Syracuse on Thursday were searching in Oswego County for the body of at least one of two women murdered more than 18 years ago by the same man.

Investigators with the Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office and the Syracuse police were in West Monroe or Central Square looking for at least one of the victims of convicted murderer Philip Whaley, according to authorities and one of the victims then-boyfriend.

Onondaga County Medical Examiner Dr. Robert Stoppacher said the district attorney’s office put him on notice that he would be needed if investigators found remains.

“They gave us a heads-up that there might be something, that they’re looking,” Stoppacher said Thursday. “I don’t know much about it.”

Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd said he was aware that investigators from Syracuse had been searching in the Central Square area for the past couple of days, but that his office had not been called in or briefed on the operation.

Syracuse police and Onondaga County prosecutors refused to comment.

Whaley, 61, was the first person in Onondaga County history to be convicted of murder without the victims’ bodies being found. He was sentenced in 1996 to 50 years in prison for murdering Josephine Chatraw in 1984 and Peggy Reiley in 1992.

Whaley’s murder trial was the first in Onondaga County in which DNA evidence was used.

He was being held at Elmira state prison until Nov. 11, when the state received a court order for him to be transferred to Onondaga County, according to Linda Foglia, speaking for the state Department of Correctional Services.

Such an order to produce an inmate could be for many reasons, including an ongoing police investigation, Foglia said. The court order did not give a reason for the transfer, she said.

As of Thursday night, Whaley was being held at the Onondaga County Justice Center jail, according to jail records.

Gene LaMoy, Reiley’s boyfriend at the time, said her relatives told him about a month ago that Whaley was in ill health and had decided to reveal the locations of the bodies.

“The last I knew, Whaley was going to give them a location,” LaMoy said. But, LaMoy said, he’d heard since then that Whaley had changed his mind.

A relative of Reiley’s in Syracuse, who would not give her first name, said Thursday that she was aware of the search in Oswego County. She would not comment further.

The prosecutor who convicted Whaley, Glenn Suddaby, said in 1996 that it was likely Whaley hid both bodies in the same place.

When he was sentenced in 1996, Whaley maintained his innocence. His lawyer, Thomas Ryan, said Thursday he was unaware that Whaley had told police where the victims’ bodies were hidden.

Nearly 50 witnesses testified in Whaley’s trial, but there was sparse physical evidence linking him to the victims. A DNA expert testified that a drop of dried blood — found on a pillow in a camp trailer belonging to Whaley’s mother — was Reiley’s. A blue, 10-speed bicycle Reiley rode everywhere was found in a storage shed at Whaley’s mother’s home in Pulaski.

At the trial, jail inmates testified that Whaley admitted to the murders while he was being held on other charges in 1992. He told them he’d killed two women and hidden their bodies.

Whaley told one inmate that police would never find Reiley’s body. “They ain’t going to find it. Oswego County’s a big area,” the inmate testified Whaley had told him.

Contact John O’Brien at or 470-2187.



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