SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Sunday morning, Sep. 1, 1996, 42-year-old Carol Ryan was found beaten, naked and dying in a driveway off Route 91 near the Jamesville Reservoir.

An explosive device had been used, leaving what the Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick describes as a sadistic wound.

Carol was technically still alive, although not feeling any pain, she was comatose and unconscious. It’s an especially evil, sadistic kind of person that would commit a crime like this. Because Carol wasn’t the type of person to hurt anybody. This was just pure evil.

Bill Fitzpatrick, Onondaga County District Attorney
Carol Ryan

And for the first time since then, the District Attorney shares, they think they know who did it.

There is a specific, identifiable suspect that we have in this case. It’s not enough to arrest him, but I’m hopeful that DNA technology may get to that point in the very very near future where we can examine some of the physical evidence at the scene and either exonerate him or conclusively tie him to the crime.

Bill Fitzpatrick, Onondaga County District Attorney

Was the killer someone Carol knew?

According to Fitzpatrick, it was somewhere in between, not a total stranger, but someone investigators believe Carol Ryan encountered the night of her death.

A killer whose actions Fitzpatrick describes as sadistic and animalistic, something he’s never seen before. Was it someone who has killed before? Fitzpatrick says no, and the suspect is no longer in New York State.

Fitzpatrick said, “I’m not revealing anything to him. I’m not tipping him off, he knows he’s a suspect.”

And he’s lawyered up. So that means they can’t question him and without enough evidence, they can’t arrest him. We’ve also learned an important witness in the case, has passed away.

“Unless we find some legal way to get that person’s affidavit in front of a grand jury, in front of a court, that testimony is lost forever,” said Fitzpatrick.

And what would cause someone to kill so sadistically? FBI profilers have also been consulted on the case.

“They had frankly never seen anything like this. So I don’t know what it was that set him off, we periodically check on him,” said Fitzpatrick.

Despite current limitations, it’s important to note, there is no statute of limitations on the crime of murder.

You know, one of the things this office is noted for is never giving up on a case. I’m not going to make a silly joe namath type prediction, but the one thing I will guarantee to carol’s family and her loved ones is that we will give it our best shot. Toby Shelly and myself are absolutely committed to justice in this case and we’re pretty good at what we do.

Bill Fitzpatrick, Onondaga County District Attorney

And with the right advancement in technology, the chances of finding the killer become even better.

Onondaga County Sheriff Toby Shelley has assigned a new detective on the case who will meet with a newly assigned Assistant District Attorney. Fitzpatrick will sit in on that meeting, taking place next week.