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March 30, 2013

Missing woman case was cracked by sawmill owner

By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star

---- — Some owners of rural tracts of land visit their property only infrequently. Richard Hayner of the Chenango County town of Plymouth is not among them.

It was Hayner who located the body of Jennifer Ramsaran off Center Road in the town of Pharsalia on Feb. 26.

While it was a discovery that confirmed the worst fears of her sister, JoAnn Buff of the Schoharie County community of Middleburgh, and her parents, Carol and Thomas Renz of New Berlin, it also provided a measure of closure for them and gave police important new evidence in the case.

Commenting for the first time since he located the body, Hayner, 54, said in an interview: “It does help to put some things to rest. There are three kids who had been looking for their mother. Hopefully, finding the body will help resolve some of the issues that have been in question.”

Hayner, the father of Chenango County Sheriff’s Deputy Kelly Hayner, operates a sawmill in the woods off Center Road. He said he believes in maintaining the property and keeping a close eye on it.

“I check on my lot two or three times a week,” he said. “I also do snowshoeing on it. I walk along the road and I walk all along the woods. It’s important to be very observant of your surroundings.”

Jennifer Ramsaran was last seen alive Dec. 11. Her husband, Ganesh “Remy” Ramsaran told police his 36-year-old wife left the family home in New Berlin that day to go Christmas shopping at a Syracuse mall.

Ganesh Ramsaran also confirmed in interviews with The Daily Star that he had an a brief affair with one of his wife’s closest friends. He said he has also provided that information to police when he was interrogated. He said his extramarital affair was irrelevant to his wife’s disappearance. He also said he was concerned with what he said was his wife’s involvement with online games that she played with strangers.

The body had been left in a location where it was not readily noticeable. Hayner said he saw it on an embankment, about six feet lower than the road.

“It seemed like something out of place, and I followed up on it,” he said.

The Sheriff’s Department responded immediately when Hayner alerted authorities that he had found the body. The corpse of this once vibrant young mother who by all accounts cherished her three children was then transported to Syracuse, where an autopsy has been performed by the Onondaga County Medical Examiner’s office.

The cause of death has not yet been announced. The Sheriff’s Office has indicated it is waiting for toxicology results.

If there is justice some day for the late Jennifer Ramsaran, Richard Hayner, an observant landowner, will have had a lot to do with it.

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Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond and Delaware County Sheriff Thomas Mills were among law enforcement officials who met with U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, this week in Kingston to discuss their concerns with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s controversial new gun control law, among other issues.

The sheriffs and the congressman are in accord in their view that the new law, known as the SAFE Act, is overreaching in its impact on law-abiding gun owners and should be modified if not repealed.

Desmond said he is hopeful that Gibson can help the sheriffs obtain federal funding for school resource officers who could help make sure classrooms are safe in the wake of the tragic massacre last December in Connecticut.

He said the failure by state lawmakers to exempt police from new restrictions on the number of rounds that can be loaded into a clip puts officers in jeopardy. “Our deputies are often in rural areas where they don’t have any backup,” he said. “We need to have more rounds. We’re always outgunned anyplace we go.”

JOE MAHONEY is a staff writer for The Daily Star. Contact him at jmahoney@thedailystar.com.