In 1993, 10-year-old Holly Piirainen disappeared from Sturbridge, Mass. Her skeletal remains were discovered months later, but her killer has never been found.
Now, nearly two decades later, police using enhanced forensic techniques say they have identified someone who they believe was at the scene of the girl's murder.
That person, identified as David Pouliot, died in 2003. The cause of death is unidentified at this time.
Nevertheless, Hampden County Attorney Mark Mastroianni said today that he hopes the new lead will shed light on what happened 18 years ago to this "beautiful, sweet, innocent, young girl."
Investigators in 1993 collected several items of possible evidence near where Piirainen's body was discovered in October 1993. Those items were reexamined with enhanced forensics methods earlier this year, and one was determined to be linked to David Pouliot.
"An indisputable match in identification was made," Mastrioanni said. "It is a very significant lead."
"The nature and character of the item tested, as well as its condition and location upon discovery, suggests Mr. Pouliot and/or persons associated with him were in the immediate crime scene area at a time relevant to Holly's disappearance and the location of her remains," Mastroianni said in a release.
Mastroianni named Pouliot, who would have been 49 at time of Piirainen's death, as a person of interest in the case.
"We linked him forensically to the scene,'' Mastroianni said. "But he is not a suspect at this time.''
Investigators are looking to speak with anyone who had any interaction with Pouliot from 1993-2003 and state Sen. Stephen Brewer and Rep. Todd Smola offered a $15,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction of the girl's killer.
"We want the phone to start ringing again," the prosecutor said.
Mastroianni said that Pouliot was an "an outdoorsy guy" who liked hunting and fishing and was familiar with the area.
Piirainen, had been vacationing with her brother and father, all of Grafton, Mass., at her grandparents' cottage in Sturbrdge in 1993. She and her brother had walked to a neighbor's house earlier that day on Aug. 5. She never returned and her body wasn't discovered until October 1993.
Anyone with information should call police at 413-505-5933.