BOSTON (SHNS) – Whether it is a joint effort between investigators and a private company that operates advanced sonar or the pairing of cutting-edge technology with decades-old evidence, district attorneys detailed Wednesday how collaboration has been key to major breaks in unresolved child homicide and missing children cases.
“The work really takes a community. And I think the success we’ve had has been a result of those collaborations and the work of the community, so to speak, around the missing child or the unresolved case, or the family involved, or the offender involved,” Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said during the annual Missing Children’s Day event. “We have done our best and we’ve had some success, I’m really proud to say, in solving cases that were long unresolved. And again, the work has been the result of collaborations.”
Gulluni highlighted his office’s work around the case of Lisa Ziegert, who was 24 when she was abducted from her job in Agawam in 1992 and found dead a few days later. Her killer remained at large until 2017, after Gulluni’s office applied DNA phenotyping to old evidence.
“When we look at how the Lisa Ziegert case was solved, there were a number of things that fell into place, but really one of the precipitating events was taking new technology in 2017 and 2018 and applying it to the case,” he said.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan spoke of the recent resolution in the case of Judy Chartier, a 17-year-old from Chelmsford who went missing in 1982. She said her office was approached by a new sonar technology company that offered to search the Concord River for free if they would be given credit for any findings. The company found Chartier’s 1972 Dodge Dart Swinger and police divers later recovered her remains.
“I’m happy to give anybody credit if they help us get to the answer,” Ryan said Wednesday.
Ann Marie Robertson, commander of the Mass. State Police Unresolved Cases Unit, said that between 80,000 and 100,000 people are reported missing to law enforcement agencies across the United States on any given day, but “there is no reliable way to determine the total number of children who are actually missing in the United States” because many children are never reported as missing.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children lists 94 children missing from Massachusetts, ranging from some who have been missing since the mid-1970s to some reported as missing just this week.