Saugus police looking for public's help solving fatal 2011 hit and run

Updated:

SAUGUS, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- It's been more than three years since a driver on the Saugus Turnpike hit and killed a woman, then fled the scene. Now, with no strong leads in the cold case, police are turning to the public for help.

The crash, which happened early on Sunday, June 19, 2011, killed Kathleen O'Neil, a Lynn resident. She would have been 45 years old this month. Her older sister, Mary Theo remembers her sister having a "glorious sense of humor."

Just before 1 a.m. that day, police responded to the scene after four witnesses called, reporting seeing a woman's body in the median of Route 107 northbound.

The only clue police have at the moment, which may not be connected to the crime, is a car crash that took place moments after witnesses reported seeing O'Neil's body. Witnesses at the scene, however, said her body was in the road before the crash occurred.

In that incident, A 1996 black Nissan Pathfinder struck a tree after turning over multiple times. Witnesses described seeing two short, Hispanic men removing the license plate from their car and leaving the SUV after the crash.

Police found one of the men about 100 yards from the crash scene in the woods. Police said first he told officers that he fell asleep and didn't know what caused the crash, but later changed his story.

The man later told police that he was drinking at the nightclub Lido in Revere and asked two bar regulars to give him a ride home. He bought the men a beer. Then, he said, they all left. Once the driver turned onto Route 107, the car began going too fast and started rolling over, the man told police. The next thing he knew he was being pulled from the car by strangers who told him to run or else be caught by the police.

Saugus police then tracked down the car's owner, who said he sold it to a man named Baldemar Perez. Perez did not have a valid driver’s license and turned himself into police. Perez, and the passenger who police have not named, both stated that they have nothing to do with O'Neil's death. There was not enough evidence to charge them.

At the time of the hit-and-run, the Associated Press reported that police were looking for help in searching for a possibly red vehicle with heavy front-end damage, and that pieces of the vehicle were found scattered around the O'Neil’s body.

The Saugus Police Department is now asking that anyone with information about the events of that night to tell police. Any tip, no matter how small, could help them close the case. The public is encouraged to call the police department at 781-941-1199, or their anonymous tip line at 781-231-4037.

"Someone knows what happened that day, and we need them to come forward," said Saugus Police Lieutenant Ronald Giorgetti in a statement.