Family still looking for clues to Penn Township woman, daughter missing since 1985
The family of a Penn Township mother who went missing with her 10-year-old daughter in 1985 hopes the recent discovery of a junior high school ring that belonged to the woman may jog some memories that could solve the mysterious 34-year-old disappearance.
“It would be wonderful to have some sort of closure. Our family would certainly appreciate any information anyone could provide state police,” said Nancy Martinelli of Greensburg, the sister of Janet Shuglie, who disappeared June 30, 1985.
No bodies were ever discovered after the double disappearance of Shuglie and her daughter, Marisa, Trooper Steve Limani said. They were last seen along Route 985 south of Jennerstown in Somerset County. Tips have been few and far between.
“We’ve never had enough information to develop sufficient information that would enable us to get an arrest warrant. We’re hoping that now that we’ve been able to positively identify this ring as belonging to Janet, who used to go by the name of Janet Marie Palumbo, that someone may step forward with information to help us and help us assist this family,” Limani said.
Shuglie and her daughter were last seen walking away from the Coleman Motel, which no longer exists.
According to a 1996 Tribune-Review article on the disappearance, Shuglie reportedly was attempting to borrow money to leave the area. Her home life at a rental property near Hidden Valley Resort had been strife-ridden, and her husband, Francis J. Shuglie, had relocated his wife and daughter to the motel.
Shuglie’s husband was tried and convicted in Allegheny County for soliciting two police detectives to kill his wife’s uncle and maim her aunt, according to the news report. He served a portion of his sentence at the former Farview Institution for the criminally insane in Wayne County and now lives in the Pittsburgh area, police said.
“I was Janet’s matron of honor at her wedding. In high school (at Penn-Trafford), she was a majorette and I was a cheerleader, and we had so many good times together,” said Martinelli, who was three years younger than her sister.
One of Shuglie’s brothers, Raymond Sartori of Mt. Washington, also spoke at the news conference in Greensburg.
“Although it’s been a tragedy, this has amazingly brought together Janet, me and our brother, Anthony, who lives in Florida. The only thing missing is Janet, and we would love to have her restored back into our lives,” said Sartori, who was 19 when his older sister disappeared.
Martinelli and Sartori said Janet and Francis, who used to live in Jeannette, had trouble through much of her marriage. Sartori said the family lost contact with Janet’s husband.
“She moved 12 times in 11 years,” Martinelli said.
“After the disappearance, her husband called me on the phone a few days afterward and asked whether I had seen Janet, saying they had had an argument at the motel, and she had walked away. I asked if he had called state police, and he said no,” she said.
The Shuglies had two sons, younger than Marisa, and Martinelli said the family has lost contact with them, too.
“To be honest, when it first happened I thought about the disappearance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But it was consuming me, and I had two children to raise. I could not function at all like that,” Martinelli said.
“It’s still horrible during every holiday and her birthday. And her birthday is coming up July 28,” Martinelli said.
Sartori said the family is hoping that the discovery of their sister’s Penn Joint Junior High School ring is a sign that the family’s tragedy may finally be solved.
Limani said another family had the ring after finding it “many, many years ago.” They turned it over to troopers a few weeks ago after learning it could be that of a missing woman. He declined to release more information on where the ring was discovered or who turned it in, saying it remains part of the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information is asked to call state police at 724-832-3288.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .