Information sought on piece of evidence in Holly Piirainen homicide case

Authorities are continuing their plea for help from the public in hopes of solving a decades-old homicide case.
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 12:08 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2023 at 5:12 PM EST
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Authorities are continuing their plea for help from the public in hopes of solving a decades-old homicide case.

The Hampden’s District Attorney’s Office said that Holly Piirainen, who was 10 years old at the time, was vacationing with her father and family members in Sturbridge when she was last seen around 11:45 a.m. on August 5, 1993 going to play with puppies at a home near Allen and South Roads. She was reported missing an hour later when she didn’t return.

Her father began a search and found just one of her sneakers on South Shore Road. A larger search, that spanned days and weeks and included several local and state law enforcement agencies, was launched, but nothing was found.

On October 23, 1993, Piirainen’s body was found by hunters in a wooded area off of Five Bridge Road in Brimfield. The D.A.’s office said that evidence was collected and documented and has been maintained by State Police investigators for the last 30 years. Throughout the investigation, that evidence has been reviewed and forensic testing has been conducted.

The D.A.’s office added that within the last six months, items that had been collected in 1993 were identified for further testing in an effort to expand on earlier testing.

On Wednesday, investigators addressed one item, a white shirt, and asked for the public’s help for more information about the shirt. It is described as a white tank-top style shirt that has a blue, purple, and pink ‘Boston’ on the outside front. There is no manufacturer tag or size information, but they believe the shirt to be an adult size.

Investigators released photos of a shirt collected near where Holly Piirainen's body was found...
Investigators released photos of a shirt collected near where Holly Piirainen's body was found in Brimfield in 1993.(Western Mass News)

Authorities are trying to determine where the shirt came from, who may have owned it, where it might have been sold, who might have manufactured it, or any other information relative to it being in the area where Piirainen was found.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said in a statement:

“Just a couple weeks ago, on January 19, 2023, Holly Piirainen would have celebrated her 40th birthday. For the past thirty years, the Piirainen family has been coping with this unimaginable tragedy. In this endeavor to seek justice for Holly, we work as many hours as we can devote, we spare no expense, we deploy only the best investigators, and we employ the latest technologies; however, in many instances, we cannot do it alone. We need the public’s assistance; we need someone, who knows something, to stand up with us and do what’s right. we are issuing a clarion call to the public, and together as a community, to finally bring justice for Holly and her family.”

In 2012, investigators identified a dead man, David Pouliot from Springfield, as a person of interest in this case after DNA evidence tied to him was found near where Piirainen was found. In 2020, investigators received a tip that led them to the grave of another man, who would have been 18 at the time of Piirainen’s murder. His remains were exhumed in search of a letter that may be tied to this case.

When asked about these two men, Gulluni said it’s still an open investigation and there are still persons of interest in this case, but he can not identify who they are.

Piirainen’s aunt, Jackman, was at the D.A.’s update Wednesday’s and stood next to her husband and Piirainen’s grandmother. She described who she believes Piirainen would be today as she would’ve just turned 40 this past month..

“In my mind, she would’ve been confident and strong...I think she would’ve had a bright future, just pursuing whatever she decided. She was strong willed,” Jackman said.

Anyone with information about the shirt or the case is asked to call ‘Holly’s Tipline’ at (413) 426-3507 or ‘Text-A-Tip’ to CRIMES (274637) and in the message, type SOLVE and your tip.