On August 5, 1993, Holly Piirainen, 10, was visiting her grandparent’s cottage in Sturbridge, MA with her family when she disappeared. She had to a neighbor’s house with her younger brother, Zachary, 5, to see some puppies when she was abducted. Her brother returned home without her, prompting her father, Richard, to send both her brothers out to look for her. They returned with only a shoe, found in the road.
Her father reported her missing immediately, which lead to a massive search including officials from local and state police as well as units from Rhode Island and Connecticut, and a sheriff’s department. Despite this massive search, it wasn’t until late October of that year that her remains were recovered.
It was October 23rd of 1993 that hunters found Holly’s remains in Brimfield, MA, near Five Bridge Road. She was found just a few miles away from where she was abducted. There is now a small pink cross where her remains were found.
On January 3, 2012, Mark Mastroianni, the Hampden County attorney, announced that forensic evidence connected deceased David Pouliot, who died in 2003. At the time that Holly’s remains were recovered, police collected several items that could be evidence from the area and connected one of these items to Pouliot through forensics. The specific item apparently lead police to feel that Pouliot and possibly others associated with him were in the area her remains were recovered at a time that would mean they may have information relating to her death or be involved with her death. While he was linked to the crime scene, Pouliot was not officially declared a suspect.
Among the names on the suspect list police have, one name in particular stands out to many: Randy Stranger, the brother of Rodney Stranger, who is a suspect in the disappearance and murder of Molly Bish in 2000. Stranger was reportedly living in a tent in Brimfield, MA at the time that Holly was taken and cooperated with police when he was questioned about her at the time of her disappearance. At the time that Rodney Stranger was arrested in 2009, for the murder of his girlfriend, Randy was supposedly missing. He was found in Florida by Massachusetts State Police and they arrested him on an outstanding drug warrant. He spent a year in jail. When police investigating the disappearance of Molly Bish searched Rodney’s trailer on a top in 2012, an investigator on Holly’s case also joined them.
Rodney Stranger has also been named as a possible suspect, along with serial killer Lewis Lent. Lent has confessed to multiple murders since being in jail for the murder of a 12-year old boy in 1990. He confessed to also killing a young girl in 1993, in New York, Jamie Lusher in Westfield, MA in 1992, and kidnapping a girl from Pittsfield, MA in 1994. A previous resident of Brookfield was also named, Robert Armes, by a police officer on “48 Hours” as being investigated in relation to Holly’s and Molly Bish’s deaths.
Zachary, the younger brother Holly was with when she went missing, began to have flashbacks of a man’s face in 2005, that he was unable to place. A sketch was drawn up of the man he was seeing that bore an eerie resemblance to Randy Stranger. It is worth noting that the family was not shown a picture of Stranger until 2009, four years after the sketch was drawn up.
As of February 2020, the abduction and murder of Holly Piirainen remains officially unsolved. It is possible that perhaps out there somewhere, someone saw something on August 5, 1993 that they may not have known was pertinent to the investigation. If you believe you may have information pertaining to Holly’s murder, you can call tips in to the Massachusetts State Police at 413-505-5993 or text CRIMES (274637) starting the body of the text with the word “solve” to text in a tip.
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