WRENTHAM, Mass. (WPRI) — It’s been more than four decades since 13-year-old Mary Frances Harvey’s body was found discarded in a sand pit off a busy Massachusetts highway.

The Providence teen was reported missing just days before the gruesome discovery.

Her half-brother Michael Harvey said he was 6 years old when she vanished without a trace.

Courtesy: Michael Harvey

“She was my best friend,” Harvey said.

Harvey told 12 News that his half-sister, who went by the nickname “Frankie,” had been staying at a Providence shelter after getting into a fight with their mother.

On Nov. 26, 1980, Frankie decided to go out with a friend, according to Harvey.

While her friend returned, Frankie did not.

Three days later, the body of an unidentified teenager who had been shot several times was discovered off Route 1 in Wrentham.

Investigators weren’t able to immediately identify the victim, though there were a couple of promising clues. She had a letter in her pocket that was signed by someone named “Sharon,” and the name “Paul” was written on the bottom of one of her shoes.

After a week, detectives asked The Sun Chronicle to run the girl’s photograph in hopes of identifying her.

“My aunt and uncle were reading the newspaper and saw Frankie’s face … that’s how we figured it out,” Harvey said. “We didn’t even know she was gone. It broke our family, it really did.”

Courtesy: Michael Harvey

While the Harveys began grieving over the loss of Frankie, Detective John Barrett began working the case.

Unfortunately, the search for her killer would go cold.

But in 1999, his son, Detective Sgt. James Barrett, would pick up where his father left off.

“This case troubled him throughout his career,” James Barrett said. “I think he’d have a smile on his face knowing that we’re picking it up and trying to work on it again.”

Barrett told 12 News that DNA found at the scene was tested in the late 90s, and now, nearly 42 years after Frankie’s body was found, Barrett has submitted it once again.

Courtesy: Michael Harvey

He’s hopeful that this time, there will be a match.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

There’s also another lead: Barrett said shell casings found near Frankie’s body matched those from another unsolved homicide that occurred in Pawtucket two years after Frankie’s death.

While it means the same gun was used in both homicides, it doesn’t necessarily mean the same person pulled the trigger.

“I’m not a big fan of believing in coincidence,” Barrett added. “I think there may be some greater connection between the two.”

Harvey thinks his sister trusted the wrong person, and that’s what led to her demise.

“She had street knowledge, but she trusted people,” Harvey said. “I think that was her downfall.”

He hopes that someone will come forward with a piece of information that will put an end to decades of emotional turmoil for his family.

“It would mean a lot to have closure,” he said. “I could move on with my life.”

Anyone with information regarding the murder of Mary Frances Harvey is asked to contact the Wrentham Police Department at (508) 384-2121.

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