The Warren community is reeling over a big break in an unsolved murder case that’s nearly 21 years old and one that Western Mass News has followed closely over the years.

WARREN, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- The Warren community is reeling over a big break in an unsolved murder case that’s nearly 21 years old and one that Western Mass News has followed closely over the years.

With law enforcement naming a person of interest in the killing of 16-year-old Molly Bish, there are many people feeling strong emotions these many years later.

Now deceased, Francis Sumner Sr. had a criminal history in the central Massachusetts area leading up to Bish’s disappearance. The information about him comes as the community revisits this decades-old pain.

“It’s been way too long, way too long anything,” said Gretchen Toutant of Palmer.

More than 20 years later and the Molly Bish murder is still raw to those in Warren and the surrounding communities. A new break in the teen’s cold case came on Thursday where the Worcester District Attorney named Francis Sumner Sr., a convicted rapist, as a person of interest. However, Sumner died five years ago and Toutant told Western Mass News this new discovery came too late.

“Wouldn’t you rather have…I’m sorry… wouldn’t you rather have been able to face him? It’s been a long time coming,” Toutant added.

Sumner was convicted in 1982 of aggravated rape and sentenced to jail time in Auburn, about 45 minutes east of Warren. Molly Bish disappeared from Comins Pond in 2000, which sparked statewide efforts to find her. Bish’s remains were discovered in Palmer in 2003.

Law enforcement said Sumner operated auto body repair shops in the Leicester, Spencer, and Worcester areas. He died in Spencer.

The Worcester County D.A. is asking anyone with information to call their hotline.

Toutant, in the meantime, said Bish was friends with her niece, Rachel.

“It was a beautiful friendship she was a beautiful girl,” Toutant noted.

Thursday’s development is new information dropped on a community that’s still struggling to heal.

“She suffered for years...She told me she still dreams about them, about her,” Toutant said.

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(1) comment

Searcher

"He had a 20-page record and he's done lengthy time in prison for aggravated rape, kidnapping, and a series of other crimes." He was a local guy with a record of sex crimes, a lot of them. I'd bet no one in the area matches his abysmal arrest/conviction record. He should have been suspect number one and been relentlessly pursued.

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