BOSTON (CBS) – Investigators announced a “significant” new lead Tuesday in the unsolved kidnapping and murder of 10-year-old Holly Piirainen.
Piirainen was last seen alive at her grandmother’s house in Sturbridge in August 1993.
Hunters found her remains in a wooded area about five miles away in Brimfield two-and-a-half months later.
The Hampden County District Attorney said on Tuesday that a re-evaluation of forensic evidence was able to definitively link David Pouliot of Springfield to the area around the time when Piirainen disappeared.
DA Mastroianni called the new evidence “a turning point in the investigation,” but stressed that Pouliot, who died in August 2003 at age 49, is not considered a suspect at this time.
The DA said there is “not enough information to designate him as a suspect.”
Authorities say they have been able to confirm that Pouliot hunted and fished in the area where Piirainen’s remains were found. They also seemed to suggest the possibility that Pouliot was not alone in the area.
“The nature of the item suggests that either Mr. Pouliot or people associated with him were in this immediate area at a time relevant to Holly’s disappearance and the finding of her remains,” said DA Mastroianni.
They are asking anyone who may have known Pouliot and can provide historical information about him to come forward.
“We consider it to be very relevant to the investigation,” said DA Mark Mastroianni. However, he said, the case remains “an ongoing investigation.”
Pouliot still has family in Springfield. WBZ reached out to them, but they did not return any phone calls.
WBZ-TV’s Ken Macleod reports
The victim’s family is hopeful, but cautious.
“I’m cautiously optimistic and I’m waiting for further results,” Holly’s grandmother, Maureen Lemieux said on Tuesday.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports
Lemieux said that in the past, there have been people of interest in the case and she describes the past 18 years as an emotional roller coaster.
“It’s up and down and we’re hoping this turns into something,” she said.
There’s a $15,000 reward in the case.