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Detectives re-test evidence in 1978 Narragansett cold case after 12 News inquiry

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NARRAGANSETT, R.I. (WPRI) ─ August 24, 1978 is a night Donna Richards and Dolores Calabrese will never forget.

It was the night their friend Susan Greenhalgh was hit and killed by a car.

That night, the trio decided to go to Schiller’s Nightclub in Narragansett for a night of drinks and dancing.

But when it came time to leave, Susan was nowhere to be found.

“We realized she wasn’t there,” Richards recalled. “I don’t know when she left.”

Richards said they went to check another nearby nightclub, Caesar’s, to see if Susan ended up there, but she hadn’t.

In a time before cell phones and text messages, they assumed the 21-year-old Cranston woman had met up with someone else, and they decided to head home for the night. But Susan would never return home.

Narragansett Police Detective Brent Kuzman said despite the pouring rain, Susan left Schiller’s on foot that night following an argument with her boyfriend.

Her boyfriend, Kuzman said, eventually walked to go find her. At the time, the boyfriend told investigators the two met up briefly before parting ways again, and that was the last time he saw her. The boyfriend said he walked towards Caesar’s while Susan made her way back to Schiller’s.

But at the end of the night, when Susan was nowhere to be found, her boyfriend told police he went back out in his car to search for her, and called police the next afternoon asking if she’d been arrested.

Susan hadn’t been arrested, and a few hours later, a young boy on a bicycle spotted her purse on Ocean Road. Kuzman said her body was found by officers in the nearby brush.

It was later determined by the medical examiner that she’d been hit by a car from behind.

Susan’s friends were horrified by the news.

“Everybody was in shock, we were all in shock,” Richards said. “She was not the type that would walk in the pouring torrential rain in the dark, and she could have asked me, ‘Can you give me a ride?’ My keys were on the table all night.”

“First thing I got was a phone call from Donna telling me that Susan had died,” Calabrese recalled. “I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She goes, ‘She was hit by a car,’ and I think we were both just quiet for a few minutes.”

“I didn’t know what she was thinking and she didn’t know what I was thinking, but I think we were both thinking the exact same thing,” Calabrese continued. “This wasn’t an accident.”

Kuzman said evidence recovered from the scene doesn’t indicate any foul play. Neither the boyfriend’s car nor Richards’ car had any damage to it.

Police are looking to talk to the drivers of three vehicles that were reportedly in the area that night before Susan was hit: a Volkswagen Beetle with two couples inside and out-of-state plates, a 1960’s van with a primer spot, and a late 1960’s red Ford pickup truck that was being driven by a white man in his 20’s with a beard. Susan’s boyfriend told police the driver of the red truck picked him up and gave him a ride to Caesar’s, remarking on the way that he had seen Susan walking in the road.

“Who was in Narragansett on August 24, 1978 is really the only question,” Kuzman said.

Kuzman said they’re now resubmitting evidence from the scene to the state crime lab for testing, which includes a paint chip found on Susan’s body.

“If we can match that paint fleck up on her that would be amazing,” Kuzman said.

In the meantime, Susan’s friends and family are holding out hope they’ll receive the closure they’re so desperately seeking.

“A day doesn’t go by that you don’t think about it,” Susan’s brother Jack Greenhaulgh said. “She was a sweetheart, she really loved people. She wanted to be a model. She was very good in school and she was just fun to be around.”

Richards and Calabrese tell 12 News Susan’s death didn’t get a lot of media attention, so they’re hopeful by telling their story, it will bring forth new leads.

“We’re just hoping if somebody has any idea, or something in their mind they might have seen or remembered, come forward and reopen the case and find out exactly what happened,” Richards said.

Anyone who believes they were in the area the night Susan was killed or has any information pertaining to the case is urged to contact the Narragansett Police Department at (401) 789-1091.

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