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Police shine light on 20-year-old cold case

Onondaga County Sheriff's Office
Carol Ryan

On the 20th anniversary of a heinous murder in Onondaga County, police are hoping a reward helps crack what remains an unsolved case.

The last time anyone reported seeing 42-year-old Carol Ryan alive was Sept. 1, 1996, after she left a bar in the Eastwood neighborhood of Syracuse to walk to her apartment. She was found several hours later near the Jamesville Reservoir, nearly dead, after being badly beaten, and having an explosive detonated in her pelvis.

Onondaga County Sheriff Gene Conway was a captain of investigations for the sheriff’s department at the time and was called to the scene, which he says he will never forget.

“For me that’s what makes it most personal. That somebody went to the extent that they took, in order to take her life," said Conway at a news conference in Syracuse Wednesday.

Conway is hoping that a $10,000 reward will revive some memories of that late summer night, and help investigators in what has been a continuing probe. The sheriff says 20 years is not too long to break a case.

“The fact that leads have been worked on as recently as last week, is testament to the fact that a homicide is something we never ever let go of. And though time passes, it doesn’t necessarily mean, that the chances diminish to find whoever is responsible for the crime,” said Conway.

Detective Bill Root has been working on the case for the last three years.

"We’re trying to review old reports, trying to talk to people that have already been interviewed in the past, maybe see if they recall anything further. Sometimes things change in people’s lives, where they might want to come forward now or whatever reason. So we’re trying to talk to anybody we can,” said Root.

Conway says fresh eyes on the case by Root and another detective, along with the reward, and applying the latest crime fighting science to the evidence, may help find a suspect. Detectives want to talk to anyone who may have seen Conway walking towards her apartment in Eastwood the evening she disappeared.

Ryan’s son, Shawn Hamilton, has been waiting 20 years for news of an arrest.

"I pray that they get somebody for this, every day. I have a picture of my mom next to my coffee pot. The first thing I do every morning is say good morning. There’s not a day that passes that I don’t.”