SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — It was August 20, 1979 when police made a grisly discovery behind the front desk of a Seekonk motel.
That morning officers found the body of 35-year-old Margaret Pizio, brutally beaten and stabbed.
Her daughter, Beth Pizio, said her mother’s death haunted her childhood.
“It’s really always been a question of, who would have wanted to do this to her?” Beth said. “You learn very rapidly that the world is not as nice and sheltered as you had previously thought it was.”
Beth said her mother worked overnights at the Susse Chalet Motor Inn on Route 6. She and her three siblings were with their grandfather the night of Margaret’s death.
She said the entire family became nervous when Margaret didn’t return home from work.
“There was this rising tension in the house, like he was worried,” Beth said of her grandfather. “He wasn’t really talking about it but he was really worried.”
The Boston Globe reported that $900 has been stolen from the motel’s cash register, but detectives believe the brutal killing was more than just a robbery gone wrong.
“I just can’t imagine who would have been that angry at my mom,” Beth said. “You know, there’s a real element of fear about it for me because of the way that I grew up with this shadow over my childhood, knowing there was a person out there who had done this.”
Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn’s main goal is to provide families like Margaret’s the answers they’ve been seeking. That’s why he created a Cold Case Unit devoted to solving violent crimes dating as far back as the 1970s.
“We care about the lives that were lost,” he said. “All of the potential and the grief and turmoil it’s caused the family.”
Beth said she has fond memories of her mother, including napping on her lap at church and the elaborate birthday cakes she would make.
Margaret, according to her daughter, didn’t have much of a social life outside of her multiple jobs, which kept her afloat as a recently-divorced mother of four.
Before her death, Margaret was set to testify about a prior robbery at the motel, but police at the time ruled out a possible connection between that and her murder.
“They reviewed the evidence and looked into different individuals ,but in the end no one has been charged, so this is a case that, as we go back, we feel is warranted in taking a second look at,” Quinn said.
The Globe mentioned Margaret didn’t sound the motel’s silent alarm the morning she died as she had during those prior robberies, meaning she likely unlocked the door for her murderer.
“It just makes no sense to me,” Beth said. “It’s not even necessarily about justice to me as much as it is learning why.”
Quinn wouldn’t comment on whether there’s DNA evidence to be tested in this case. He instead asks anyone who may know something about the murder to “find it in their conscience” to come forward.
If you know anything about Margaret’s murder you’re urged to contact the DA’s Cold Case Unit by calling (855) MA-SOLVE (855-627-6583) or by clicking here.