Posted: Sep 1, 2011 10:45 PM by Danielle Lerner
Updated: Sep 2, 2011 8:17 AM
It's been more than 20 years since 20-year-old Marina Ruggiero was brutally murdered in San Luis Obispo, but detectives are still determined to find who did it.
Ruggiero was visiting San Luis Obispo from San Pedro back on August 25, 1991 for a friend's wedding. Detectives say she left the wedding reception to go back to her hotel room and 45 minutes later, her sister returned to Marina's room and found her stabbed to death.
Detectives will only say they have discovered some new evidence in the case and they are pouring over old evidence with fresh sets of eyes. Still there is no murder weapon, no suspects and plenty of unanswered questions. That is why they are hoping the community can help.
"We have combed over everything," said Detective Chad Pfarr, of the San Luis Obispo Police Department. "I can't even tell you how many times."
Detective Pfarr is one of three investigators now working Marina Ruggiero's case. It was a frustrating case back then and still is but here is what they know. On August 25, 1991, the 20 year old left a wedding reception at the Monday Club and walked across the street to her hotel room at the Cuesta Canyon Lodge, now the Holiday Inn Express on Monterey Street. Marina's sister found her in the room 45 minutes later. She had been stabbed over and over.
Back then hotel employees recalled hearing a terrifying noise that night.
"There was just a definite horrid screaming when I was standing outside with Mike," said one employee. "It was more of a real high eerie sound and it just didn't stop, it didn't stop at all."
Flash forward 20 years and the mysery remains.
"There's that 45-minute period of time that we don't know anything about," said Detective Pfarr. "We're hoping now that we can talk to some of those people that saw something and didn't talk to investigators back then, that will provide us with a fresh perspective."
Detective Pfarr is asking anyone who may have seen or heard anything related to this case over the years to come forward. To help catch a murderer, and give Marina's family some much-needed closure.
"We haven't forgotten about it." said Pfarr. "I won't be happy retiring until I can go and see Marina's parents and explain to them what happened and that we caught this person."
Marina's case is one of just two unsolved murders handled by San Luis Obispo Police. The other is Frank Gove, who was beaten to death with a bat while closing up his son's baseball card shop in 1990.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's department has reopened the Kristin Smart investigation. Her body was never found so it is still a missing person case.
As for what's next in the Ruggiero case, evidence will be resubmitted to the Department of Justice for new, more advanced testing. Detectives will also be re-interviewing witnesses and speaking with anyone new who comes forward. Crime Stoppers will also take anonymous tips.
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