The Unsolved Cases of Monroe County
Jose Bas was shot and killed while working at his family-owned grocery store in Rochester. It has been almost 50 years since his murder, but police say the case is still unsolved. This is the fourth part of an ongoing series covering the unsolved cases of Monroe County. Here is his story.
By Madison Scott
JOSE RAMON BAS
On November 1, 1972, police say 60-year-old Jose Ramon Bas was shot and killed while working at his grocery store, Bas Grocery in Rochester. It has been almost 50 years since his murder, but investigators say there has never been anyone charged in the crime. This is the fourth part of an ongoing series covering the unsolved cases of Monroe County. Here is his story.
It was reported that around 10:45 p.m. on November 1, 1972, two suspects entered Jose’s store on Conkey Avenue where he was working alone. The Rochester Police Department says they believe the suspects may have placed an order for groceries before attempting to rob Jose.
An article from Democrat and Chronicle dating back to 1972 reported that Jose was shot three times: once in the neck, once in the jaw, and once in the ear. The article stated that he was then brought to a nearby hospital where he died about four weeks later.
Investigators said there were other people living in the same building at the time, but no one has ever reported seeing or hearing any gunshots.
On an episode of Crime Stoppers from 2016, Seargeant Charles Zlotkus, with the RPD’s Major Crimes Unit told the FOX Rochester reporter that though he believes this was a robbery gone wrong, no money was ever found missing from the store.
“No money was taken so we dont know. Supposedly he was never going to allow anybody to rob him, he was a very strong-willed man,” said Zlotkus in the interview.
Jose’s grandaughter, Arleen Hyland, told FOX Rochester that “strong-willed” is exactly how she remembers her grandfather. She says she remembers the day of his murder like it was yesterday.
“I remember, you know, waking up that morning and just for some reason having a bad feeling. Looking out the window I saw my mother and her two sisters crying that morning. When my mom came in, you know, she told us that my grandfather had been shot,” said Hyland in the interview.
Hyland told FOX Rochester that solving this case would mean everything to her and her family. She said that they will never give up hope and will continue to keep his name alive in the community.
“It would mean a lot to solve this case and know who did this and make sure they pay for what they’ve done you know, to my family and to my grandfather,” said Hyland in the interview.
Investigators say that even after 50 years, they are still investigating this case in hopes to provide closure for Hyland and her family.
At a press conference this past October, Rochester Police Captain, Frank Umbrino, said the launch of the RPD Unsolved website has given them a new wave of hope in solving this case and others like it.
“Mr. Bas’ case is the oldest case we have on the website. He was tragically killed back in 1972 at the Bas Grocery store which was the family-owned and operated grocery store on Conkey Avenue,” said Umbrino. “His family is a perfect example of those desperately looking for justice,” he added.
In an interview with Democrat and Chronicle from the press conference, Hyland said she hopes this website will generate new information from the public to potentially solve her grandfather’s case.
“To come here and see what they’re going to be doing, it gives me a lot of hope. It gives my mother a lot of hope. We’ve suffered for 49 years, and we’re not giving up. We want this solved and it’s up to the community to call and give tips. Anything, anything that they can provide to solve this cold case,” said Hyland.
Sergeant Robert Wetzel, with the RPD, says no matter how long a case has gone unsolved, they are always looking for new information and leads to investigate.
“Our goal is to ensure the family that these cases are always, you know, at the forefront as long as we have fresh information to work with,” said Wetzel. “Unfortunately we have hundreds of cases that are unsolved, but we do our best to maintain a constant flow of bringing something new to the table,” he added.
Investigator Seth Carr, with Rochester’s Unsolved Cases Unit, says that many times the public has information to solve cases like Jose’s. He said this website could potentially bring in information that individuals might have been too scared to come forward with in the past.
“I dont think it’s a secret that you know, people that might have been interviewed in say 1999 on a case, maybe their alliances were different. Maybe their cooperation level is different now. Maybe they had and held back the information in 1999, but if we go find them again and knock on their door they might be more forthcoming today,” said Carr.
Both officers said the RPD triages old unsolved cases on a monthly basis. Investigator Carr said looking at these older cases monthly ensures that every case is investigated with the most updated technology.
“There’s never nothing to do on a case,” said Carr. “Science today is even more advanced than it was a year ago, it’s more advanced than it was 5 years ago, and it’s certainly more advanced than it was 20 years ago. With today’s science even if it [evidence] already was sent over in the past [for forensic testing], it’s worth redoing and trying again,” he added.
Investigators say the murder of Jose Bas is an ongoing investigation. If you have any information regarding this case you can call the police department at 585-428-7157 or you can submit a tip on their website.
THE PERSON BEHIND THE POSTER… WHO WAS JOSE RAMON BAS?
Those who knew and loved Jose said that he was a very hard-working man that would’ve done anything for his family.
On the Rochester Unsolved website, his family wrote that he had just retired and opened Bas Grocery to continue to provide for his family. They said he was a very determined man, but was always loving and gentle towards his family.
“He lived for his daughters and then his grandchildren. He worked very hard to provide for his family,” they wrote. “It has been almost 49 years since he was taken from us. We still feel the deep void in our hearts. I ask that if anyone has any information to please help us understand what took place so we can have some form of closure,” they added.
Investigators say that until they find whoever killed Jose Bas, this case will remain an open investigation and they encourage the community to come forward with any information.