'It's time to end our suffering': Parents of slain Ontario woman push for answers as police offer $100K for information
TORONTO -- The parents of a young Ontario woman who was one of two people shot and killed earlier this year are making an emotional appeal for information as police offer up a $100,000 reward to help solve the case.
Juliana Pannunzio, 20, of Windsor, and Christine Crooks, 18, of Toronto died, on Jan. 19 while attending a birthday party at a short-term rental in Fort Erie.
Photos and memories are all Pannunzio’s mother and stepmother say they have left of their daughter. They both raised her and say they are heartbroken and have so many questions.
“[She was] kind, smart, funny, outgoing, fiery,” said mother Lisa Mulcaster. “To sit here and not know at this point, still, what happened to her, it eats you alive.”
“It changed our lives forever. It put us into a tailspin we can’t get out of,” said stepmother Shellie Pannunzio. “It’s so hard to move forward … to constantly wonder if there is something we could have done.”
The parents hope a $100,000 reward being offered by Niagara Regional Police Service [NRPS] leads to the arrest and conviction of the person, or persons, responsible, and will give way to the answers they so desperately crave.
“What we’re hoping for is that they are finally going to come forward, if it takes this increased financial incentive of $100,000 to be tipping point, enough is enough,” said Staff. Sgt Steve Magistrale with the NRPS major crime unit. “I’m not going to allow this level of violence to keep on occurring. This is such a tragedy.”
Police released a photo from the party Thursday, taken from surveillance footage inside the residence, and hope to learn more about the male and female unmasked guests.
Police say more than five people were at the party and believe they are from the Toronto area.
“We have spoken with some of them who have come forward, but there are others who still refused to cooperate,” Magistrale said. “What we’re really dealing with is a person who brings a gun to a birthday party and senselessly murders two girls at this party. So this is a person who deserves to be held accountable.”
Pannunzio’s parents say they don’t know the people their daughter was with the night she was killed.
“It’s time for someone to come forward. It’s time to speak your truth. It’s time to end our suffering,” said Shellie.
“There’s no more laughs, there’s no more kisses, hugs, there is nothing. So the void that she has left us, you can’t fill that, she was a person, she was a part of me, a part of our family and she’s gone. For what? Why?” said Mulcaster.
Police have not said if the individuals in the image released from the party are suspects in the double homicide.
Anyone with information about the murders is being asked to contact police or Crime Stoppers.