From our July 2011 issue: A look at the 1993 murder

including an exclusive interview with one of the witnesses

As prosecutors prepared to announce charges in the 1993 murder of Tricia Pacaccio, the parents of the slain teen blasted the Cook County State’s attorney’s office for failing to act on a 2003 match between the primary suspect and DNA discovered on their daughter’s fingernails.

“My husband and I both feel that what Cook County did is, once they found DNA, instead of pursuing [the suspect] Michael [Gargiulo], they made false excuses on why DNA was on her. How pathetic,” said Tricia’s mother, Diane, in an exclusive statement given Thursday to Chicago.

The mother also said she believes charges never would have been filed against Gargiulo for their daughter’s murder had he not been indicted by Los Angeles authorities in connection with two murders there—one of which occurred after the 2003 DNA match—and an attempted murder.

“As long as he murdered only my daughter, they didn’t care. They didn’t do anything about it,” the mother said. “They were willing to leave it an open case forever. Again, how pathetic.”

UPDATE (2 p.m.): At Thursday’s news conference, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez sympathized with the Pacaccios. “I know this family is suffering,” she said. “We can only imagine what they’ve been going through all these years.”

However, as she has in the past, Alvarez defended the decision not to charge Gargiulo in 2003, citing procedural problems in the collection of the DNA. She also repeated arguments previously made by her office that Tricia Pacaccio could have gotten Gargiulo’s DNA on her through casual contact—a contention that Tricia’s parents call “insulting.”

It wasn’t until the emergence of two new witnesses—exclusive details of which were provided here by Chicago in a June 15 online update—that she felt she had sufficient evidence to charge Gargiulo, Alvarez said. The DNA alone, she said, was “not the silver bullet.”

After the news conference, the Pacaccios parents said they are also incensed that Alvarez did not thank Cook County sheriff’s detective Lou Sala, who put his retirement on hold to pursue what had become a cold case.

The father, Rick Pacaccio, also said they “need to process all this” before commenting further. “This is Tricia’s day,” he said.