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Hampden County D.A. Pursuing List of Cold Cases

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Police say the arrest of Faustino Diaz is an example of good police work and advances in forensic testing of DNA.

Diaz is charged with rape and murder of 90-year old Myrtle Marrett in 1991.

More than 20 years after the murder, police say they have their man thanks to good detective work and advances in forensic testing.

District Attorney Mark Mastroianni says this is just one of dozens of cold cases in the county and some 7 to 10 of them are being actively investigated and re-examined.

“We made a conscious decision to open this this cold case unit by picking select groups of cases and we’re not going to let that number grow until we’re able to resolve the cases we pick,” says Mastroianni.

Mastroianni says some of those active investigations include high profile murder cases like the Lisa Ziegert case.

Ziegert was abducted from an Agawam card shop in 1992. Her body was found 4 days later.

Also on the active list, is the abduction and murder of 10-year old Holly Piirainen in 1993.

The D.A. says there are no guarantees of an arrest in either or both cases but there is hope given advances in forensic testing of DNA.

“I can’t announce we are on the verge of an arrest in either case but I can promise that investigators have been working and will continue to work tirelessly in those cases,” says Mastroianni.

Another high profile case is the 1972 murder of Springfield altar boy Danny Croteau.

Now defrocked priest Richard Lavigne was a prime suspect in the case but was never charged with the murder.

ABC40 asked the D.A. if the Croteau case was one of the high focus cases now being re-examined.

“I’m not going to comment on whether or not that’s one of the cases specifically but I will tell you investigative leads continue to come through our office on that case on a regular basis,” says Mastroianni.

In the case of  Myrtle Marrett, Mastroianni says police used money seized in drug raids to pay for the overtime needed to help do all the leg work and find the man they feel is responsible.


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