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Police ‘Double Down’ on Unsolved Dorr Murder Using New Technologies

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The Pleasantville Volunteer Fire Department held its annual candlelight vigil Monday evening honoring volunteer firefighter Thomas Dorr, who was slain 28 years ago. Westchester County police have stepped up their investigation of the brutal murder.

Westchester County police have stepped up their investigation on the brutal murder of Pleasantville resident and volunteer firefighter Thomas Dorr, slain 28 years ago.

At the annual candlelight vigil for Dorr on Monday night at Graham Hills Park in Mount Pleasant, Westchester County Police Detective Kevin Nethercott, who is co-leading the murder investigation, and Lt. Jim Provenzano, who oversees the general investigation, updated a gathering of about 30 volunteer firemen, friends and local residents.

“We are combining forces with two departments, the district attorney’s office as well as the county police, to double down on our efforts,” Nethercott said. “We know it’s been 28 years. We spent the majority of the year digesting and dissecting statement after statement and every piece of evidence.”

Nethercott said the investigation was now using new technologies on evidence such as the M-Vac Systems, which is a wet-vacuum DNA collection system. “Hopefully through our perseverance we will have a positive outcome,” he said.

Provenzano added “We did a lot of work this past year and we interviewed a lot of people.”

Representing the Westchester District attorney’s office was criminal investigator James Menton.

Dorr was murdered on Jan. 7, 1996, during a blizzard as he walked through the woods of Graham Hills Park. He was due to report to the Pleasantville firehouse where he had been a volunteer since 1979. His stabbed and beaten body was found in a snowbank the next day. Today, near a park trail, is a cross marking the spot.

Dorr, who worked for the White Plains Water Department, had one son, Thomas, with his wife, Jane Sawyer Dorr. Thomas was 15 when Dorr was killed. Living with them in their Pollywiggle Lane home was Jane’s son from a previous relationship, Jeff Sawyer.

An extensive exposé by Examiner Publisher Adam Stone this week detailed extensive background information on the case as well as new revelations.

Jane Sawyer Dorr and Jeff were both identified as suspects by police early in the investigation. Sometime after the murder Dorr and her son moved to Connecticut where she changed her last name back to Sawyer. Some evidence was lost because Dorr’s body was found buried in snow.

Westchester County police spoke to about 30 volunteer firefighters, friends and local residents at Monday night’s annual candlelight vigil for volunteer firefighter Thomas Dorr. Pictured, left to right, are Lt. Jim Provenzano, Westchester County Police Detective Kevin Nethercott and James Menton, a criminal investigator from the Westchester District attorney’s office.

“There is no new information we can share publicly at this time,” said Kieran O’Leary, public information officer for the Westchester County police. “This case has never been closed and remains under continued investigation.”

At the vigil, Pastor Kevin O’Hara of Pleasantville’s Emanuel Lutheran Church said a vigil reminds everyone that no life should ever be forgotten.

“God will seek justice, and even if justice isn’t given on this side of the world, we all believe in justice from God,” O’Hara said. “Those who have committed this heinous act will be held accountable before our great judge. We must be vigilant in pursing justice.”

Retired White Plains public works commissioner Bud Nicoletti spoke about Dorr as a very congenial person and one who could talk about any topic.

“Tom was very well-spoken,” he said. “We occasionally spoke at work and he read a lot and could chat on a variety of topics.”

Also speaking at the vigil was John Thys, who worked with Dorr as a volunteer firefighter.

“We hope that one day we find out who did this,” Thys said. “Hopefully in the next couple of years, maybe sooner, this will be solved and we can throw away these candles and just visit on occasion.”

An earlier version of this report misspelled the name of James Menton, a criminal investigator with the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. This piece was updated at 10:15 a.m. on Jan. 10 to reflect the accurate spelling. We regret the error.

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