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Holly Branagan's dad: 'I live with this all the time'

By Jaccii Farris, Reporter, JFarris@wfmz.com
Published On: Mar 25 2014 04:05:28 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 26 2014 05:29:37 AM CDT

Word that Bethlehem police have a suspect in the 1979 murder of Holly Branagan is news that one man has been waiting 35 years to hear.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -

Word that Bethlehem police have a suspect in the 1979 murder of Holly Branagan is news that one man has been waiting 35 years to hear.

Richard Branagan and his wife, Lee, spent the day Tuesday cooking and decorating their new home days after Bethlehem police announced they have a suspect in the death of Branagan's daughter, Holly, and days before the 35th anniversary of her brutal killing.

"Whoever did it has had to live with it for 35 years, and now they feel as though it's coming down to a conclusion," said Branagan.

Holly was stabbed to death inside her home on Pine Top Trail in Bethlehem on March 28, 1979. It would be the second in a series of losses for Branagan.

Three years before, his wife died of cancer and six months after Holly died, his son, Sean, was killed in an explosion.

Branagan said the initial investigation into Holly's death was botched. Her friends didn't want to talk to police, and his frustration grew as the days passed with no arrest.

"I live within myself, and I live with this all the time," said Branagan, who learned to keep it inside and keep on living.

Several years later, he met Lee and started a family. He said every year, the anniversary of Holly's homicide is hard, but investigators have focused intently on finding Holly's killer in recent years, and for the first time, there is a glimmer of hope.

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"Now they have a suspect, and whoever did it might have to start feeling guilty, and who knows what that might come to pass," said Branagan.

Branagan and Bethlehem police said they believe the killer confessed the crime to someone who, 35 years later, will finally put a father's painful questions to rest.