Diane and Rick Pacaccio mount the stairs in silence. They trudge to the second floor of their modest two-story house in Glenview, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, and stand before the bedroom just to the left. Diane turns the knob with a trembling hand.
The room is all pastel pinks and powder blues. Porcelain clowns line a set of shelves. The words Happy Sweet 16 shimmer on a piece of poster board. “Everything is just the same,” Diane says. She pauses, spots a framed photo of her daughter. The girl’s dark hair, parted on the left, falls gently over her shoulders. Her smile is girlish, sweet, tinged with yearning. “She’s got a beautiful face, this girl,” Diane murmurs.
Rick lets out a sudden, sharp sob. He turns and waves at the air, as if beating back an attacker. He staggers toward the door. “I gotta go,” he says.
A Grisly Scene
Eighteen. That’s how old Tricia Pacaccio was on August 14, 1993, when, between 1 and 2 a.m., someone plunged a knife into her a dozen times on the stoop of her home’s side door. Her father found her bloody body later that morning.
From that day forward, the Pacaccios, now in their early 60s, have wanted one thing: to catch the killer. When the investigation began, detectives had what seemed to be a few good leads. Police collected physical evidence, including Tricia’s key chain, which they found next to her, and some fingernail clippings. They also found a man’s shoe print.
The Pacaccios’ usually quiet cul-de-sac was teeming with potential witnesses the night of the murder—their neighbors had hosted a pool party earlier that evening.
Yet the leads evaporated as quickly as they appeared. The key chain and fingernail clippings were examined, but the less sophisticated forensic testing methods at that time yielded no useful evidence. The shoe print, it turned out, belonged to Rick Pacaccio, left in the first frantic moments after discovering his daughter. No one from the party reported seeing anything out of the ordinary that night.
Detectives tried to determine a motive-. Sexual assault was ruled out as Tricia had been found fully clothed with no sign of such injuries. Nothing had been taken from her, so robbery didn’t fit. The brutality of the crime suggested personal animus, but investigators couldn’t find anyone who harbored the slightest ill will toward Tricia. “She was a beautiful person, inside and out,” says Karen Isenberg Jones, a friend of Tricia’s, who was with her earlier on the night of the murder. “She was genuinely nice to everybody.”
For more than ten years, leads appeared and faded, trails went cold, strings of detectives came and went.
Then in 2006, homicide detective Tom Small from Hollywood, California, called the Pacaccios. He was investigating the similarities between Tricia’s death and the 2001 murder of a Los Angeles woman. He had a question: Did they know a Michael Gargiulo?
Next: Portrait of an Accused Killer
Some people like to travel by train because it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of an airplane.
I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”
“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” —Everyone following you on Instagram
A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.
Comedian Greg Davies
Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.
Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.
My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me everything you know.”
“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” —Alcohol
@yoyoha (Josh Hara)
My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.
Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?
A: A mechanic.
More About True Stories
What You’re Sharing
- Orphaned on the Ocean: The Unbelievable Story of Terry Jo Duperrault
- “Pull Yourself Together!”: Rob Lowe on the Unexpected Tears of Sending His Son to College
- Romancing a Terrorist: I Posed Online as a Young Woman Interested in ISIS
- The Reunion That Took 77 Years to Happen
- The Baby Who Refused to Die: 11 Hours in Room 407