I-Team: 1994 murder of grandmother haunts family

News

Metro homicide detectives are asking for help from the public in solving a notable — and horrific — cold case murder.

An 81-year old woman named Ada Priolo was abducted, stuffed into the trunk of her car, and left to die in the blazing heat.

It happened nearly 25 years ago but detectives are re-examining key evidence.

Ada Marion Priolo was elderly but not feeble. On Aug. 22, 1994, she left her residence in the Arthur Santini Complex on Brush Street to do grocery shopping.

She emerged from the store at Decatur Boulevard and Meadows Lane and in that parking lot met her fate.

“We have an innocent older woman just minding her own business getting her groceries and has evil come her way. It’s just terrible,” said Ken Hefner. “We believe she was robbed for her pocketbook, cash.” How hard is it to get that from an 81-year-old woman?”

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Cold case Detective Ken Hefner believes Mrs. Priolo was abducted in that lot, stuffed into the trunk of her own car, along with her groceries. The kidnapper then drove the vehicle a short distance to a church on West Oakey Boulevard and left her there, in the trunk, in the stifling heat of an August afternoon.

“The chances of her being discovered in the time frame it would take for her to succumb to the heat is very short,” Hefner said.

Reporter George Knapp: “An hour?”

Det. Hefner: “If that, yes.”

“I got panicky because we hadn’t heard from her or anything,” said Marilyn Marquez, Ada Priolo’s daughter.

After two days of not hearing from Ada, her daughter and granddaughter contacted police. A search began. Two more days passed before Ada’s Monte Carlo was found, still parked in the same corner of the church lot.

“They showed up and said we found the car. They described the woman in it. They wanted to know if it sounded like her. It was not doubt it was her,” said Marylin Marquez, Ada Priolo’s daughter.

The body and groceries were locked in the trunk. There were no external injuries, meaning the heat killed her. The average high temperature that month was 107 degrees.

In the years since, detectives have interviewed several suspects — young men with criminal histories who lived within walking distance of where the car was found. Detectives declined to release the names of the few remaining suspects but they are hoping that someone in the public might know about the crime based on conversations they overheard.

“Whoever did this may have talked to somebody else that they’re close to, a family member, boyfriend, girlfriend and mentioned it in the past,” Hefner said. “Maybe they’ll come forward and help us put this case to rest.”

The physical evidence found in the car did not allow for a positive identification in years past, but Hefner and his team are taking a fresh look. Ada’s family has never recovered from the moment they received the news.

“Our whole family is rocked,” said Tami Stilwell, Ada Priolo’s granddaughter. “It’s never been the same.”

In the meantime, homicide is taking a fresh look at the physical evidence, fingerprints left on the trunk and possible DNA evidence from inside the car, using advanced screening that wasn’t available years ago.

“It’s her mother and she’s never had any closure. We don’t have any,” Stilwell said. “None of it makes sense that our grandmother was horrifically murdered at an age where, you know, she should never fear going to the grocery store.” 

A reward is being offered for information on this murder. Anyone with information is being urged to contact Metro’s Homicide Section (702) 828-3521.

(This was the original story that aired on Aug. 23, 1994)

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Fill out my online form.

Trending Stories