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New sketches released of suspect in unsolved 1990 Springfield homicide

One of the computer generated sketches of the suspect in the unsolved 1990 murder of Shana Price released by the Hampden District Attorney in December 2022.
One of the computer generated sketches of the suspect in the unsolved 1990 murder of Shana Price released by the Hampden District Attorney in December 2022.

Shana Price was 17 when she was found dead in Blunt Park on Dec. 26, 1990

Hoping to engage the public to help solve a 32-year-old homicide in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Hampden District Attorney has released a sketch of a suspect developed using DNA from the crime scene.

The killer of Shana Price is a man with brown to light-brown complexion, hazel or brown eyes, black hair, and few freckles, according to an analysis of a DNA profile. The suspect’s ancestry is West African.

Price was 17 when she was murdered. Her body was discovered the morning after Christmas Day 1990 in Blunt Park by a parks department foreman. She had been strangled, beaten, and sexually assaulted.

Directing comments to “the person responsible for Shana’s murder,” District Attorney Anthony Gulluni declared “Justice is coming for you.”

The prosecutor made public computer-generated sketches of what the suspect might look like at ages 25 and 57. Gulluni announced a tip line and said members of his office’s unresolved cases unit and Springfield Police detectives are doing additional investigative work.

“The case was thoroughly investigated at the time,” Gulluni said. He declined to comment on whether detectives had identified suspects or persons of interest during the initial investigation.

He said Price was last seen in the Upper Hill and Bay neighborhoods on Christmas Day 1990 and in the early morning hours of the day she was killed.

“Those who knew something at the time and for whatever reason maybe they were scared or in bad places in their lives and didn’t want to speak with police, (perhaps) now 30 years later they will come forward,” Gulluni said.

The DNA profile developed from the crime scene forensics has been in national and international law enforcement databases since 2003, but with no matches found so far.

Standing with Price’s son, who was 1-year-old when his mother was murdered, Laquana Price said she is glad her sister’s unsolved killing is getting attention again after more than 30 years.

“Help us United States, help us whoever you are to find this person because we need closure,” she said. “We need to be able to move on and celebrate her life rather than worry everyday if the person is still out there to do this to other people.”

This is the second time Gulluni has turned to DNA phenotyping technology developed by Parabon Nanolabs in hopes of cracking a cold case murder.

In 2016, he made public a computer-generated sketch of a suspect in the 1992 slaying of Lisa Ziegert in Agawam. About a year later, a man who had been on the radar of investigators, and who bore a likeness to the sketch, was arrested. He later confessed to killing Ziegert and is serving a life prison sentence.

“Sadly, Shana hasn’t been in the public domain as much as Lisa was,” Gulluni said. “We are really hopeful here the release of this information and the composite sketch will (get) folks to come forward, will generate information.”

The tip line for the Price case is 413-432-9881.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.