SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Gary Schara, the suspect charged with the murder of schoolteacher Lisa Ziegart in 1992, has pleaded guilty Wednesday in Hampden District Court.

FULL COURT HEARING:

Schara has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Dozens of Ziegert’s family members and friends were in the courtroom as the judge accepted Schara’s guilty plea. Schara looked straight ahead as Ziegert’s mother, brother and sister delivered emotional victim impact statements.

“Since April 15, 1992, every happy occasion has a touch of sadness,” said Dee Ziegert, Lisa’s mother. “I look at the wedding albums, and search the clouds and backgrounds of the pictures, looking for a sign that she was there.”

“I recognize that we never know where life’s path might take us, but Lisa was never given the opportunity she deserved to walk her path,” said Lisa’s brother, David. “Her opportunity was taken from her, due to acts of violence that have taken more than 25 years to receive the appropriate consequences.”

The family told 22News they are relieved that now that they won’t have to go through the process of a jury trial.

“I think that that would have been so much harder on all of us – family and friends,” said Dee Ziegert.

Schara had also been charged with aggravated rape and kidnapping, but those charges were dropped because the statute of limitations ran out. DA Anthony Gulluni is now calling for new legislation to change the guidelines for the statute.

“We would still be able to prosecute them, irrespective of how long it took to arrest the person,” said Gulluni.

The Hampden County DA and Lisa Ziegert’s family discussed the cold case murder being solved after 27 years in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

Lisa Ziegert’s family statements

According to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office, On April 15, 1992, Lisa Ziegert a middle school teacher in Agawam was abducted during the early evening hours were she worked at a local card shop.

Lisa was reported missing the following morning by a store employee. When the employee arrived at the store, she found the store open, lights on, and Lisa’s car parked where it was the previous evening.

The money in the register, as well as Lisa’s purse and school materials, were not touched.

On April 19th, four days after her disappearance, Lisa’s body was discovered in a wooded area about four miles from where she was abducted. Her death was then ruled a homicide.

Twenty-five years later Gary Schara was arrested after becoming the subject of a court ordered genetic test and subsequently becoming a fugitive from justice.

District Attorney Anthony Gulluni

Lisa Ziegert Investigation: