Friday, October 7, 2016

Barbara Jean Paciotti: Missing Since June 14, 1969

Paciotti was last seen in downtown near Sammy’s Pizza (now the Mane Salon), where a close friend watched her get into a 1964 Oldsmobile being driven by a suspect she had been dating.Paciotti was residing in Minneapolis at the time but in town visiting her parents, for the weekend visit and in celebration of Father’s Day. She had been working as a secretary for an investment firm for about a year. Later that day, officers of the Minneapolis Police Department were called by the suspect's family members to check on his welfare. He was living in an apartment in Minneapolis and had returned some time that day.
He was located by law enforcement a few blocks from his apartment shortly thereafter. According to reports, a short chase ensued. The suspect was soon apprehended and returned with officers to his apartment.

While being questioned, the suspect told officers that he and Paciotti took a ride around 01:30 a.m. He said they had an argument, which prompted him to exit the car. A specified location of the stop was not given. The suspect went on to tell officers that he recalled hitting Paciotti once, and that he was sure she was dead. He remembers waking up in Mora, Minnesota, but not where he left Paciotti. 

Officers noticed muddied clothing and shoes lying on the apartment floor. Mud and grass covered a pair of pants that the suspect claimed he had been wearing earlier that morning. The suspect's vehicle, which belonged to his father, was searched. Officers located a purse with one of its straps detached. Inside the purse, they found Paciotti’s identification. The suspect was not arrested at the time.

A day later, the Minneapolis Homicide Unit received word from family members that the suspect had penned a suicide note. Family also told officers they had spoken to him about Paciotti and what may have occurred, adding that he did not remember much. He was admitted to a hospital for observation. A search warrant was executed by Minneapolis officers on June 19, 1969. 

The suspect's roommate informed them that the muddied pants and shoes in question were taken by the suspect's mother. The shoes were located some time after but the pants never were. Officers attempted to question the suspect about his involvement with Paciotti on June 20, 1969, but were unsuccessful. At the same time, several massive ground searches were mobilized in the Hibbing area, but raised no leads. 

Three reports were received via phone that a vehicle was seen on Highway 73 with its headlights on in the early hours of the morning on June 14. The reports place the vehicle about one mile south of the Maple Hill overpass. It is unknown whether the vehicle was occupied at the time. Paciotti was never found. The case was eventually suspended. 


Additional Details of Disappearance:



Paciotti was a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1969. She was visiting her parents in Hibbing, Minnesota on June 14, 1969 when she was last seen near Sammy’s Pizza downtown, just after midnight. Paciotti's roommate saw her get into a green 1964 Oldsmobile driven by Jeffrey Dolinich, whom she was dating at the time. The vehicle belonged to Dolinich's father. Paciotti has never been heard from again. When questioned about Paciotti's case in 1969, Dolinich claimed they had argued in his car and he left the vehicle as a result. When police searched his car, they found Paciotti's purse with her identification inside. One of the purse's straps was detached. The officers who questioned Dolinich noticed clothing stained with grass and mud lying on the floor of his apartment. They subsequently searched the residence, but his muddy shoes and pants had already been taken away by his mother. Investigators recovered the shoes, but not the pants.



Dolinich threatened to commit suicide after Paciotti's disappearance and was hospitalized for observation. He sent a cryptic, remorseful-sounding letter to her parents shortly after she was last seen. In the letter, he stated he had hit Paciotti and later he woke up without her in Mora, Minnesota, and he believed she was deceased.
The investigation in Paciotti's disappearance was reopened in 2005 and Dolinich was named as the only suspect in her case. He was reinterviewed by authorities, hired an attorney refused to cooperate further in the investigation. Several searches in and around property formerly owned by Dolinich have turned up no evidence in Paciotti's case, and he never faced charges in her disappearance. He is now deceased.
Paciotti's family does not believe she would have left voluntarily. Authorities believe Paciotti met with foul play and is deceased, but there is as yet insufficient evidence to charge anyone in her disappearance. She was employed as a secretary for an investment firm in 1969. Her father and sister died in 1977 and her mother in 2004, but her brother is still alive. Paciotti's loved ones held a memorial service for her in
2008. Her case remains unsolved.



Vital Statistics:


Date Of Birth: March 11, 1949 
Age at Time of Disappearance: 20 years old 
Height and Weight at Time of Disappearance: 4'11"; 98 lbs. 
Distinguishing Characteristics: White female. Dark brown hair; brown eyes
Clothing: She was wearing a rust-colored jacket over a red plaid dress, a pair of loafers and rings                                of jade and topaz when last seen. 
Dentals: Available (Charting). 
DNA: Available.



 --Unraveling A Mystery--
Kelly Grinsteinner
The Daily Tribune
Monday, December 12th, 2005


HIBBING — Local law enforcement authorities have released more information relative to the disappearance of Barbara Jean Paciotti in 1969, including naming their prime suspect.

Former Hibbing resident Jeffrey Dolinich, 62, of Coon Rapids, Minn., has been formally identified as the last person to see Paciotti alive on the night of June 14, 1969.

“As of now, we have no other suspects,” said Hibbing Police Chief Barbara Mitchell. “He was cooperating with law enforcement but has since retained an attorney.”

The Hibbing Police Department announced late Thursday that it has resumed its investigation into the disappearance of the 20-year-old Hibbingite. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department have also been assisting in the case.

Mitchell, along with lead investigator Dale Wright, said Friday that the case file has long been under review. But why now?

“We felt there was more that we could do,” said Wright. “We had more leads and more people to talk to. We mainly tried to talk to different parties to see what they recall of that time period.”

Investigation teams were deployed earlier this week to follow up the leads and conduct interviews. Among those questioned were family members and friends of Dolinich, his employer and co-workers, among others. Surviving members of the Paciotti family also have been involved.

“We felt there was more that could be done with this case as far as investigation materials and new kinds of investigative technologies, such as DNA testing,” said Mitchell. “We are hopeful that with the evidence was have in the case and these types of new technologies, we can bring this case to a close.”

Paciotti and Dolinich were said to be dating at the time. She was last seen in downtown near Sammy’s Pizza (now the Mane Salon), where a close friend watched her get into a 1964 Oldsmobile being driven by Dolinich.

Paciotti was residing in Minneapolis at the time but in town visiting her parents, Betty and Fabian Paciotti, for the weekend visit and in celebration of Father’s Day. She had been working as a secretary for an investment firm for about a year.

According to earlier newspaper articles, Paciotti had planned to meet with a former boyfriend that Friday evening. While driving around with her close friend, the pair came across Dolinich in the downtown area and bypassed him.

Hours later, Dolinich walked up to their vehicle while paused at a downtown stoplight and began talking with Paciotti. She went with Dolinich just after midnight and was never seen again.

Later that day, officers of the Minneapolis Police Department were called by Dolinich’s family members to check on his welfare. He was living in an apartment in Minneapolis and had returned some time that day.

Dolinich was located by law enforcement a few blocks from his apartment shortly thereafter. According to reports, a short chase ensued. Dolinich was soon apprehended and returned with officers to his apartment.

While being questioned, Dolinich told officers that he and Paciotti took a ride around 1:30 a.m. He said they had an argument, which prompted him to exit the car. A specified location of the stop was not given.

Dolinich went on to tell officers that he recalled hitting Paciotti once, and that he was sure she was dead. He remembers waking up in Mora, Minn., but not where he left Paciotti.


--Farewell, Barbara--

Posted: Sunday, June 15, 2008 12:00 am
by Kelly Grinsteinner
Assistant Editor


HIBBING — In the very same church she was baptized, Barbara Jean Paciotti was honored and her life celebrated by family and friends during a Memorial Mass on Saturday.

Some of those who attended knew the petite, dark-haired Serbian-Italian dynamo that was “Barbie” well, while others never had the joy of knowing her.

But all gathered at the Immaculate Conception Church, where Barbara’s graduation photo and portrait of her as a child stood on the altar among several bouquets of roses.
All were there to remember her and say one final goodbye while stepping toward closure.
Barbara was last seen with a male acquaintance in downtown Hibbing on June 14, 1969 — exactly 39 years ago to the day. She was 20 years old at the time, and her disappearance remains unsolved.
“Certainly we hoped she would someday return. Maybe it was too awkward to memorialize someone who was so vibrant and might still be found. Most assuredly, it was just too painful to say goodbye under the circumstances,” said Heather Paciotti, Barbara’s niece, while giving the eulogy.
“But we are now ready because it is the right thing for our family to do, and because Barbie truly deserves this day of honor and remembrance. Although we may not be able to lay her body to rest, let us finally lay her memory to rest here today.”
Heather shared how Barbara’s friend Carol described her as “an exuberant spitfire with a contagious giggle and smile.” She talked about Barbara’s love of clothes, how she’d hide if her make or hair weren’t done, her cravings for pizza and her mom’s signature Italian spaghetti, and how she’d tan herself on the dock at uncle Stan’s cabin.
Tim, a boyfriend of Barbara’s, called his former flame “a fun-loving companion.” He allowed Heather to share his reflections about his first date with Barbara, including how she used a cover story of having a babysitting job.
To her mother, Barbara was a friend and confidant. To her dad, who she called “pops,” she was destined to become a phone operator given her lengthy conversations.
To her older sister Susan, Barbara was a best friend.
“From the time they were toddlers, these two dark-haired beauties — one with curly hair and one with straight hair — were bosom buddies,” said Heather.
Barbara was described by her aunts as “a bubbly child who simply wanted to have fun,” while her older cousins viewed her as “a pathfinder who hit her teen years before others.”
But at the top of Barbara’s list was her little brother, Greg “Elmo” Paciotti, whom she was known to dot on.
“As her friend Carol said, ‘Greg was truly the love of her life,’” said Heather.
In her eulogy, Heather surmised what Barbara would think of her family members today, and how proud she’d be of each of them.
She also spoke about how Barbara’s “brief life and unexplained passing” has changed each one of them in some way — “whether it be in the overprotective way we raised our own children, to the deep-rooted reality that life is unpredictable and cannot be taken for granted, to the belief that in the end we simply should embrace and enjoy life the way Barbie did.”
Paula Hirt, a high school friend of Barbara’s, described her long lost friend as fun-loving, energetic, thoughtful, caring and never at a loss for words. To prove such, she read aloud a card that Barbara had once sent her in October 1968.
Hirt also recounted heading to high school football games, a venture to St. Paul to see the Supremes in concert, and how they had fun together attending the local community college.
Along with laying Barbara’s memory to rest, family members also attempted put years of anger, longing, frustration, disappointment — and a slew of other emotions created by so many unanswered questions — behind them.
“Today was very emotional,” said Elmo while he and family placed flowers between the graves of his parents, Fabian “Cha” and Betty Paciotti, at Maple Hill Cemetery Saturday evening. “It’s some closure, some finality.”
The Mass had been over for some time and guests who had gathered after it had headed home.
Barbara’s name, along with Susan’s, who passed away in 1977, is on their mother’s grave. A date of death for Barbara has yet to be added to the headstone.
“This was our way of doing something for her, acknowledging her life and pretty much putting her to rest,” said Elmo. “This should help give some closure.”
So will the family be able to move forward?
“Hopefully we can, but it’s hard to say right now,” he replied.
Elmo said he’s still harbors ill will toward the man he believes took his sister from him. It was in dealing with those emotions and heavy burdens that the Rev. John O’Donnell suggested appealing to a higher power for.
He equated the family’s struggle to experiencing “a living death that plagues (one) every waking moment of our lives.” He said it goes on and on like a wound that never heals.
“Some wounds can not be healed from the outside. It just creates surface healing,” O’Donnell. “Some wounds in our lives have to heal from the inside.”
Elmo said he was happy, and shocked, at the turnout for the Mass.
“I’m very thankful that so many showed up,” he said. “Obviously many people still know about it, and it’s still touching the community.”
Many, said Elmo, thanked the family for holding the service and were appreciative that they did.
“A lot of people told us it was about time,” he said.
Kelly Grinsteinner can be reached at kelly.grinsteinner
@mx3.com. To read this story and comment on it online go to www.hibbingmn.com.

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