Moira “Holly” Branagan (1962 – 1979) was murdered 37 years ago today. Holly was found stabbed 18 times in the back with a 10-inch kitchen knife. The autopsy showed she had 15 serious knife wounds, three less serious wounds, and two defensive wounds on her hands.
The attack was so violent that the kitchen knife broke off in her back. The estimated time of her death was before dusk on March 28, 1979. The police found no evidence of burglary or forced entry. Holly was dead for about 18 hours before she was found. She had not been sexually assaulted.
Detective Galloway said that the murder appeared unplanned but it had a viciousness that points to a crime of high emotion. Police suspect Moira “Holly” Branagan knew her killer.
No fingerprints were found on the murder weapon. It was wiped clean. This means to me that the killer calmed down at the crime scene and that means the killer stayed long enough in the house to reach that cooling down moment.
The possible killer
The killing was a highly personal attack, very emotional, and centered on something Branagan must have said, done or, the exact opposite. With no forced entry and a personalized attack, it is possible that a friend, maybe another teenager, was responsible for her murder.
Updates in the Moira “Holly” Branagan case:
2010: John M. Morganelli, district attorney of Northampton County, starts a special investigative grand jury. This panel will hear evidence on as many as 31 cold cases including Holly’s. Robert Egan, a retired state police officer and detective, will lead the investigations for Morganelli’s office.
2014: Police reported to have a suspect. However, nothing else was made public since.
2016: the case is still with the Grand Jury but made nothing public.
Thank you for remembering Moira “Holly” Branagan with us. Please keep her father in your thoughts today.