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DNA helps investigators identify murder victim in unsolved 1989 massacre case

Crime

Constance Holminski Bassignani was last seen alive on Memorial Day weekend in 1989, authorities said.

On June 24, 1989, the severed arms and legs of a murder victim were found along Route 78 in Warwick, Massachusetts. Through DNA testing, authorities identified the victim as 65-year-old Constance (Holminski) Bassignani. Northwest District Attorney’s Office

Nearly 35 years after she was last seen alive, authorities have identified Constance Holminski Bassignani as the woman whose dismembered remains were found along a rural road in western Massachusetts in 1989.

For decades, Bassignani’s identity eluded authorities in the small town of Warwick, who knew the victim’s limbs but not his name.

Bassignani was last seen on Memorial Day weekend in 1989; a passing motorist discovered her remains in a lightly wooded area near Route 78 a few weeks later, the office of Northwest District Attorney David E. Sullivan said Thursday.

“After examining the remains, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that the victim was dismembered and the case was investigated as a homicide,” Sullivan said during a news conference. .

Investigators reviewed missing persons reports and explored several leads to try to identify the victim, he said. According to Sullivan, a fingerprint did not yield a match, nor did a DNA profile uploaded to NamUs, a national database of missing and unidentified persons.

“In any homicide investigation, the identity of the victim is obvious,” said First Assistant District Attorney Steven E. Gagné. “In this case, investigators were hampered from the start in their efforts to solve this homicide without identification of the victim. Ultimately, advances in forensic science – and particularly forensic genetic genealogy – provided a new source of hope for identifying the victim in this case.

In September 2023, Massachusetts State Police detectives collaborated with the state police crime laboratory to submit the victim’s DNA to Othram, a Texas forensic laboratory. According to Gagné, Othram was able to provide a limited family tree and potential identification earlier this year, and investigators spoke with several living relatives to confirm Bassignani’s identity.

Born in Hawaii in 1924, Bassignani was living with her second husband in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, when she disappeared. Her husband, William Bassignani, told family and friends that Constance had decided to return to Hawaii “and they would never see her or hear from her again,” Gagne said.

But investigators found no evidence that she returned to Hawaii, he noted.

“Aside from her husband’s cryptic and apparently false statement that she had moved to Hawaii, investigators do not currently have sufficient evidence to officially name anyone as a suspect in Constance’s murder, although it is fair to say that her deceased husband, William – who died in 1993 – is a person of interest,” Gagné said.

Authorities said that after Constance Bassignani disappeared, her husband, William Bassignani, told family and friends that she had returned to Hawaii. – Northwest District Attorney’s Office

The matter is still under investigation; Authorities still don’t know where Constance Bassignani was killed or why her remains were found in Warwick. Another mystery: where his skull and the rest of his remains are, which were not found with his arms and legs.

The prosecutor’s office hopes the discovery of Bassignani’s identity will bring renewed attention to the once-cold case.

“This investigation is now more active and more ongoing than it has been in decades,” Gagné said.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call state police detectives at 413-512-5361 or submit information through the Northwestern District Attorney’s website at Northwesternda .org.

“It’s like we’re trying to put together an ancient puzzle, but any small piece would definitely help,” Gagné said.

Boston

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