Police never publicly named Elisabeth Clifton as a suspect in the case, but she has never been eliminated as a suspect either, Masullo said last week.
“She continues to be a person of interest in this case,” Masullo said.
Clifton was a highly respected professor in the University at Buffalo’s Music Department.
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Police learned during their investigation that the Cliftons’ marriage was on the rocks, and that Clifton had at least one affair with another woman, De John said.
He said police also learned that Elisabeth Clifton drove a station wagon that was similar to the one described by the witness who saw the vehicle drive away from the murder scene.
Knapp believes some of the detectives involved in the search of the Cliftons’ home “went overboard.” “They said they were searching for the bicycle, which was a key piece of evidence,” Knapp said.
“I told one of the detectives, ‘You’re not going to find a bicycle in a bedroom dresser drawer.’ I still ask the question, isn’t it possible that the killer took the bicycle?
“And from everything we could see, he was very well liked by his fellow professors.” Clifton and his wife, Elisabeth, had a 15-year-old son.
They lived on Keller Road in the Town of Boston, about 16 miles from the beach.
Detectives searched Elisabeth Clifton’s vehicle for evidence but found “nothing conclusive,” De John said.
“We searched their home, and we even had divers from the Sheriff’s Department search several ponds near the home, looking for the bicycle.
Investigators from the Buffalo Police Homicide Bureau, State Police and the Erie County Sheriff’s Office assisted De John and his late partner, Norman Boergers, with their probe into the murder.
“These guys from Buffalo Homicide were very experienced.
“It absolutely looked like a premeditated crime, committed by someone he knew,” De John said. “If you were looking for an isolated area to kill somebody, that would be a likely choice.” A person who was in the area that morning told detectives she heard a man’s voice – probably Clifton’s – raised in alarm, and that she later saw a woman walking away from the scene and driving away in a gray station wagon, police said.