After months, missing teen found in Preston Hollow

— Enterprise file photo

Amanda Putorti, a teenager from Richmondville, had been missing since March before being found this week in Preston Hollow.

RENSSELAERVILLE — After disappearing for five months, a Richmondville teenager has been found in a Preston Hollow home. Four people who helped hide her — including a state-registered sex offender — have been arrested, police say.

Amanda Putorti, 17, was found Monday hiding in a small compartment within a wall at the Preston Hollow house, according to a release from the State Police who found her. She had been missing from Richmondville since March 1, when her foster parents discovering a ladder propped up against her bedroom window.

“She was there voluntarily, there was no indication she was being held against her own free will,” said Investigator Erika Hock, of the State Police barracks in Cobleskill. Hock added that Putorti had no signs of physical harm and had been released to Schoharie County Child Protective Services and brought to a safe location.

“She’s considered a runaway juvenile,” said Hock.

Richmondville, located in Schoharie County, is about 30 miles southwest of Preston Hollow.

John Winnie, 34, Jeremy Schaefer, 38, and Nicole Briggs, 37, and a 17-year-old boy who was not identified by police, all of Preston Hollow, were each arrested and charged with obstruction of governmental administration and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors, said Hock, who said the individuals were “not being truthful” and prevented police from finding Putorti.

According to the report, Briggs, Winnie, and Schaefer were released on appearance tickets returnable to Rensselaerville Town Court at a later date. The investigation is still ongoing.

Winnie is a Level 2 registered sex offender for sexual intercourse with a girl he knew under the age of 17 in 2006; he was convicted two years later. According to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, there are three levels of sex offenders with Level 2 indicating a “moderate” risk of committing another sex crime and harm to the community.

In addition to CPS, the State Police were also assisted by Cobleskill Police dogs and the Schoharie County Sheriff’s Office, according to the report; the report thanked the public for reporting sightings of Putorti during the search.

Putorti, who was 16 at the time she disappeared, had been living in a foster home before running away in the middle of the night. Her sister, Carlie Putorti, told The Enterprise in April that the teenager’s boyfriend “also kind of disappeared” before being seen less than a week later and subsequently questioned by police; the boyfriend told police he did not know where Putorti was. Trooper Mark Cepiel told The Enterprise in April that a boy might have been involved.

Carlie Putorti had said at the time that there was no knowledge of where her sister intended to go or why she left, though she had been calling family members during that time, but not providing information.

Putorti had been placed in foster care in October 2016, and has lived in two different foster homes and was not happy there, her sister said in April.

“She was angry … She wanted out,” she said.


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