It has been exactly 20 years since the horrific details of Susan Taraskiewicz’s murder began to unfold.
How the 27-year-old had worked at Northwest Airlines at Logan Airport as a baggage handler supervisor (the first woman ever to do so at Northwest) and, like most nights, had left to get sandwiches for co-workers late in the night on Sept. 12, 1992.
How she was, somehow, brutally murdered at some point after leaving the airport for those sandwiches.
And how she was found the next day in the trunk of her Toyota Tercel at the parking lot of a Revere auto body shop on Rt. 1A.
So much information about what happened has been provided over the last 20 years, and the details and timeline have been publicized year in and year out.
But finding out who did it has never panned out.
There has never been justice for Taraskiewicz or her mother, Marlene – whose family are Chelsea natives.
The case has remained cold as ice.
However, on Wednesday morning, State Police and District Attorney Dan Conley held a press conference to mark the 20th Anniversary of the murder, and they were talking with a confidence that has not been seen in prior years.
Having a press conference on the anniversary is nothing new.
Marlene Taraskiewicz has been dogged in not letting the case get too cold and, perhaps, forgotten. So, holding a press conference was expected.
But what was different was that investigators and the DA seemed to believe that there was a select group of people out there – or perhaps in jail – who could connect the dots on the case.
In fact, at some points, it seemed that they were talking directly to a small select, known group of people who might be watching the event on TV or reading about it in the papers.
“Each of us here believes this case can be solved,” said Conley. “Investigators believe, and I believe, that our best shot at solving Susan’s murder will be someone with direct knowledge of the person or persons who committed it. But we still hold out hope that someone out there has a key piece of evidence without realizing its importance. Maybe they saw her between the time she left Logan and was discovered here in Revere. Maybe they saw someone else driving her Tercel.
“The consensus among investigators and prosecutors is that someone knows who killed Susan,” he continued. “We believe very strongly that someone out there has personal knowledge that could close this case. Someone has the ability to end half a lifetime of waiting and wondering for Susan’s family and loved ones.”
Pressed on why investigators had this newfound confidence, Conley said it was a gut feeling, but there still was a sense that something more could be happening in the case.
“It’s gut intuition,” said Conley. “The brutal nature of Susan’s murder leads us to think someone out there has information kept in their vault. They should step forward.”
Additionally, he mentioned that Taraskiewicz was from Saugus, worked at the airport and spent most of her time in this area. He alluded to the fact that someone’s friend or “girlfriend” might have information that could unlock a mystery and reveal “a secret kept far too long.”
State Police Major Frank Hughes echoed that same sort of defined language.
“We believe there are persons out there who can provide us with information that would lead us to Susan’s killer or killers,” he said. “We are receiving updated information all the time and even as we speak. Some of those persons out there with information may be incarcerated. Others may be on the streets. We do know there are people out there with information that could solve this case. Please come forward. We’ll go anywhere and speak any place. It doesn’t matter how insignificant you may think that information might be.”
Additionally, investigators and Conley did touch on the long-believed motive for her killing – that of a credit card scam amongst Northwest Airlines employees.
Conley was eager to answer a question from the press about it and said it was part of their investigation.
“That is one avenue the detectives have explored for the last 20 years,” he said. “They definitely have looked at whether or not that was instrumental in Susan’s murder. The evidence has not progressed on that to the point that gives us confidence we can use it to identify a suspect or suspects.”
The credit card scam at Northwest involved employees and 10 baggage handlers – many that were Taraskiewicz’s co-workers – who were stealing credit cards and mail being transported as cargo on Northwest jets. More than 30 indictments were returned in that old case by federal authorities, and it was a federal investigation going on right as Taraskiewicz was murdered.
Local lore on the long-unsolved case is that those involved in the scam targeted Taraskiewicz, perhaps murdering her because she was going to expose the scam to investigators.
In her diary, uncovered some time after her death, she chronicled rampant sexual harassment and violent threats due to her being the first female supervisor – and some of those named repeatedly were people convicted in the credit card scam.
That information has existed for nearly two decades now, and to this point, no one has been able to connect all of the dots.
Perhaps, until now.
“Unlock this mystery,” proclaimed Conley.
But even if no one comes forward this time, Marlene Taraskiewicz said she would not stop.
“You know who you are and it doesn’t matter where you are,” said Marlene. “Please come forward and tell us…I will never give up. I will never go away until I get peace and justice for Susan.”
Those who have information on the case and want to finally come forward should call (617) 727-8817.