AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – A cold case dating back to the early 90s finally got closure on Wednesday, giving families of other homicide victims new hope.
It looks a little different from 27-years ago, but 22News went back to the shopping plaza where Lisa Ziegert worked and last seen alive. New DNA technology helped police find her killer, and there are still other families hoping to find a similar outcome.
27 years later, Gary Schara pleads guilty to killing Lisa Ziegert in Agawam, sentenced to life in jail
“I remember after that, we had people lining up to get gun permits outside of the police station it was that bad,” said retired Agawam Police Chief Robert Campbell. “There was a lot of fear. A lot of fear…”
Chief Campbell was the lieutenant in charge when the call came in about Lisa Ziegert those 27-years-ago. He said this result was a long time coming.
“No, I never lost hope that we would find him, I didn’t think it would take this long,” Chief Campbell said. “You have familial DNA that can lead you to people. So as long as we had that DNA probe, there was always the hope that someday…”
New DNA technology was used to get a “snapshot” of Ziegert’s killer, leading them to Gary Schara. But other Massachusetts families, like that of Molly Bish, who was murdered in Warren, are still hoping for their own answers.
“There is a journey of loss first, and then there is a journey of not knowing, and that’s where we are,” said Heather Bish-Martin, Molly’s sister. “I hope that all persons who are facing unresolved crimes right now, Patty, Holly, my own family, that we all get the same amount of justice.”
Molly’s sister is hoping the state will turn to using familial DNA, checking DNA databases for genetically similar persons, pointing police to the family member responsible.
“At this time, I’m looking at familial DNA as a no brainer sort of tool for law enforcement to use just to sort of widen the net,” Bish-Martin said. “You know, I’m going to fight to my last breath for Molly. I will bang down every door, I will follow every path, I will shake every tree until I find this person.”
Molly’s sister said Wednesday was National Day of Remembrance for homicide victims.
22News has reached out to the Hampden County DA to find out if and when they might start using familial DNA to help solve more cases like these, we’ll let you know when we hear back.
- Enhanced DNA testing in 16-year-old Molly Bish murder case
- 16-years later, Molly Bish murder remains unsolved
- Lisa Ziegert’s mother reached out to family of Molly Bish
- Investigators looking for car possibly linked to Molly Bish case