U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York
(716) 843-5700
October 27, 2015

Man Pleads Guilty in Connection with Murder in Chautauqua County

BUFFALO, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today Jonathan Conklin, 44, pleaded guilty to carjacking before Senior U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy C. Lynch, who is handling the case, stated that Conklin and co-defendant Charles Sanford robbed Mary Whitaker inside her Sherman, NY home on August 20, 2014. The two men approached the victim’s home and Sanford rang the doorbell. Soon after Whitaker answered the door, Conklin shot and killed her. Conklin and Sanford then stole her vehicle and drove it to Erie, Pennsylvania where they were arrested on August 22, 2014.

Charges are still pending against Charles Sanford. The fact Sanford has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Joseph A. Gerace, the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney David W. Foley, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the City of Erie (Pennsylvania) Police Department, under the direction of Chief Randy M. Bowers.

Sentencing is scheduled for March 9, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. before Judge Skretny.

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