Deputies: Remains found in fire pit identified as missing Parma man

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Deputies say the human remains found in a fire pit in June are those of a previously missing Parma man.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Monday announced they positively identified William “Billy” Mason’s bones after they were found in the fire pit, which sits on his property.

Mason, 69, was reported missing from his home on West Ridge Road on May 26. The investigation into his disappearance was declared a murder investigation after the bones were found, though deputies did not say it was Mason’s at the time.

During a briefing Monday morning, Sgt. David Bolton said investigators were able to recover many bone fragments, none of which were bigger than two to three inches, and a number of surgical implants from the fire pit. A review of video evidence collected during the investigation confirms there was a fire in the fire pit between May 25 and May 26.

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: “So the video you have shows a fire.”

Bolton: “The video shows a fire, yeah.”

Brean: “Does any video show a crime being committed?”

Bolton: “So I don’t want to get into details or specifics of what I see on the video other than the fact I can confirm there was a fire in that fire pit.”

A contact told Brean the implants had serial numbers on them, which pointed back to Mason.

Brean also asked Bolton if investigators saw Mason being placed into the fire- but Bolton would not comment beyond confirming the video showed a fire.

The sheriff’s office says it is continuing to issue search warrants and review video and other electronic evidence. Bolton said a recent search warrant was issued at a location in the city of Rochester. Deputies launched a search on May 27, which included looking at the property and the surrounding area. They later obtained a search warrant at a home on Trimmer Road near Ogden Parma Town Line Road. It’s about a mile away from the land where the search started.

Mason lost his wife in November to cancer. There was an estate sale in their house in mid-May. Watch the briefing in this story.

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While no arrests have been announced, Bolton said deputies have spoken to potential suspects, and investigators are looking towards building probable cause for an arrest.

Bolton added he believes Mason’s murder was “targeted” and there was no threat to the general public. No exact cause of death has been announced for Mason, as Bolton said it’s pending further examination.

Jackie Powley was a friend of Mason and knew him and his family for many years.

“He was great,” Powley said. “He was a really sweet guy. He would go out of his way to help you out, do anything for you.”

Powley talked to Brean about the evidence in the fire pit.

“It’s devastating,” Powley said. “First of all, I can’t believe that he was burned. I mean to me that’s just beyond my thought comprehension, I guess I could say.”

That’s not all she found confusing.

“I don’t have any idea why they’d find such little bone,” Powley said.

She added, “I wouldn’t hope that they did it alive. That would really make me see things for the rest of my life that I could take out.”

The Sheriff’s Office has still not released a cause of death, and do not know if Mason was dead or alive when he was placed into the fire pit.

Bolton said they do have people of interest, but have not charged anyone with murder yet.

The joint investigation is being conducted by the sheriff’s office, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, Medical Examiner’s Office, and the Monroe County Crime Lab.

Anyone with information on Mason’s murder is asked to call 911 or the MCSO Tip Line at (585) 753-4175.