More than 44 years after Linda Pagano disappeared and six months after her remains were identified, a memorial service will be held in honor of the Akron teen this week.
“I think it’s going to give us some closure,” said Cheryl Pagano, Linda’s sister, who organized the service with her brother, Mike.
The service will be from 3 to 4 p.m. Thursday at Adams Mason Funeral Home, 791 E. Market St. in Akron.
Pagano, 17, disappeared in September 1974 after coming home late from a concert and having a quarrel with her stepfather, who told police he threw her out of their Kenmore home. She was never seen or heard from again.
DNA results confirmed last July that remains buried in a pauper’s grave in Cleveland were Linda’s. Three boys strolling through Cleveland Metroparks on the banks of the Rocky River discovered the remains in February 1975.
The Cuyahoga County coroner determined the remains were those of a white woman in her late teens or early 20s and ruled the death a homicide. Investigators weren’t able to identify the remains, though, until last July.
After Linda’s identity was confirmed, the Cleveland Metroparks rangers reopened the investigation. A spokeswoman for the agency recently said they have no new leads.
Cheryl Pagano, Linda’s older sister, said she’s afraid the family may never know for sure who killed Linda.
“You’re going to always have that twinge of doubt of what happened,” she said.
The family, though, is excited to honor Linda’s life at the service and hope that Linda’s many friends from Springfield and Akron will attend. Linda was about to start her senior year at Springfield High School when she went missing.
The Paganos also invited people they credit for her remains being identified, including Sgt. Jeff Smith of the Akron Police Department, and Christina Scates, a genealogy researcher and websleuth who got the ball rolling.
Linda, whose remains were cremated, will eventually be laid to rest at Holy Cross Cemetery with her mother, Ann Marie Pagano Romaniello, who died in 2012.
Instead of flowers, the family is asking that contributions be made to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, a private nonprofit agency that aims to find missing children and decrease child exploitation.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705, firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter: @swarsmithabj.