Real Name: Lisa Marie Ziegert
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Agawam, Massachusetts
Date: April 15, 1992
Details: Lisa Ziegert was a beloved teacher in Agawam, Massachusetts who taught special needs students at a local middle school. By all accounts, she cared for her students and connected with them. Her students remembered that she was always nice and willing to answer questions. At around 4:30pm on April 15, 1992, she left her school and went to a gift shop where she worked weekdays from 5 to 9pm. At 5:30pm, her sister came to visit her at the shop. Her sister left at 6pm and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.
The next morning, Lisa's coworker, Sophia Maynard, arrived at the gift shop. She was surprised to Lisa's car in the parking lot and the store's "open" flag still out. At first, she thought she was there to help stuff balloons for the Easter weekend. However, when she went inside, she could find no trace of Lisa. Her car keys, pocketbook, and drawings were all left behind. Sophia went next door and called the police.
Investigators found signs of a struggle in the back store room, along with some spots of blood. A massive search began for her, with the FBI involved. Tragically, four days later, on Easter Sunday, her body was found in a wooded area on the edge of town. She had been sexually assaulted and stabbed to death. Since she was so well-loved, nobody could understand why she was murdered. Thousands stood in the pouring rain at her wake to mourn her death.
Investigators soon received three critical tips in the case. One came from a woman who was at the shop at 8:20 pm and found nothing unusual. A time-stamped receipt confirmed the time. The second tip was from a second woman who came at 9pm and found the shop open but appearing empty (when in fact, Lisa and her killer(s) were in the back room). She did hear sounds coming from the back room, presumably from Lisa's struggle with her assailants. The final tip involved a third woman who was stopped at the intersection of Route 75 and Adams Street at around 9:15pm. While at the intersection, she saw a car with a man and woman struggling in the back seat. The car was driving towards the area where Lisa's body was later found.
To this day, Lisa's murder remains unsolved. A memorial has been placed at the Agawam Middle School for her. There is a reward being offered for information in the case.
Suspects: The car described by the third woman was a late model, full sized Bronco or Blazer, and was either dark red or dark blue. It has never been found. Police have taken plaster molds of tire tracks left at the murder scene.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the October 27, 1993 episode.
Results: Solved. Investigators are still working on her case and continue to follow up on leads. The show Crime Watch Daily profiled Lisa's case in 2015. In the segment, investigators revealed that in the weeks prior to her abduction, she had told people that she believed that she was being watched. She also asked several friends and relatives to visit her frequently, as she did not like being in the gift shop. This leads investigators to believe that her killer had been stalking her in the weeks up to her murder.
DNA found at the crime scene has been sent to a DNA forensic analysis service as of December 2015. Investigators have yet to find a match based on known offenders. Since then, a composite has been made using DNA phenotyping. The man is likely fair skinned with hazel or brown eyes and brown or black hair.
On September 18, 2017, it was announced that Lisa's killer had finally been identified. DNA evidence has been connected to forty-eight-year-old Gary Schara, who has been a suspect in the case since 1993. Investigators recently tried to reinterview him, only to learn that he had fled. He was later found in a Connecticut hospital after he attempted to commit suicide. He was arrested and charged with murder, aggravated rape, and kidnapping. Along with the DNA evidence, investigators have stated that a witness gave them a handwritten note, believed to have been written by Schara. In the note, he confessed to Lisa's murder.
- Lisa Ziegert on Unsolved.com
- New England Unsolved - Lisa Zeigert
- 2013 Article on the Case (MassLive.com)
- 2014 Article on the Case (NECN)
- 2015 Article on the Case (Western Mass News)
- Image of suspect in school aide's 1992 slaying generated from his DNA
- DNA evidence may solve the murder of Lisa Ziegert
- Suspect arrested in murder of Lisa Ziegert
- Gary Schara, suspect in Lisa Ziegert slaying, appears in Connecticut court
- Crime Watch Daily video on Lisa's Case
- Lisa Ziegert at Find a Grave