The Unsolved Homicide of Margaret Pizio

It was August 20, 1979 and 35-year old Margaret Pizio was clocking into her overnight shift at the Susse Chalet Motor Inn in Seekonk, Massachusetts. Margaret should have returned home the next morning, but as it got later and later with no sign of her, the growing unease in the house was palpable. And then the phone rang.

“It was a reporter from a local radio station who wanted to talk to somebody about my mom’s murder,” Beth Pizio told me.

Beth was just a few days shy of her 9th birthday when her mother was killed. Over four decades later, Margaret’s murder remains unsolved. Beth hopes that by sharing her mother’s story, it’ll reach the person or persons who have been withholding information all these years, information that could answer the question that looms over Beth to this day… Why?

If you have information regarding the unsolved 1979 homicide of Margaret Pizio, please contact State Police Lt. Ann Marie Robertson at 508-961-1918, Massachusetts State Police Unresolved Cases Tip Line at 855-MA-SOLVE (855-627-6583) or text the word “Bristol” to CRIMES (274637), followed by the tip.


“I was born in Riverside, Rhode Island in 1970. It was a very residential area, very heavily suburban. All of the families around us were, you know, middle class,” Beth began. “My dad is an electrician and so he would’ve been working class, blue collar and my mom didn’t work. I’m the third of four kids. And it was just a very straightforward standard, suburban upbringing, at least at first. There were a ton of kids in the neighborhood.  My mom decorated cakes for us for our birthdays. That was one of her hobbies. You know, it was a good area to grow up in.”

That straightforward, standard suburban upbringing in Rhode Island changed course when her parents, Ed and Margaret, decided to divorce.

“My parents were a couple that probably shouldn’t have gotten married,” Beth explained. “I don’t think that they knew each other that well when they did marry, although they’d been dating for quite some time, but still, they had different goals. My mom wanted to work and my dad didn’t want that. And I think she felt frustrated by how closed in her life was just raising four kids.”

Beth shared, “The divorce was obviously traumatic. There’s no way it’s not, and at the time it was a lot more traumatic because you weren’t supposed to get divorced. There was still that kind of hanging over everything. And my mother was raised a Catholic and she very strongly believed that that shouldn’t happen, but it really needed to because they really they pushed each other’s buttons. And they knew exactly how to do that and exactly how to drive each other crazy.”

The divorce changed many things for the children and for Margaret, who had to find a way to make ends meet without any work experience to fall back on.

“My mother had no skills,” Beth explained. “She hadn’t gone to college and she’d never worked. And this was 1979, we were in the middle of a recession, and so she took a bunch of low paying low skill jobs in order to support us.”

To Beth’s memory, Margaret worked as a fast food cashier, on a factory assembly line and, according to Boston Globe reporting by Joseph Quinlan, the night clerk and auditor at the busy Susse Chalet Motor Inn in Seekonk, Massachusetts. 

“She was working three jobs. We didn’t see her that often, and when we saw her, she was often very tired and short with us. My grandfather would come over and watch us while she was working. So that’s kind of what that was like. It was hard, and seeing my dad was hard too, you know? ‘Cause we saw him on weekends and for you know, special occasions and stuff. And that was hard too, because the pieces didn’t go together.”


Though working three jobs and caring for her children could leave Margaret exhausted and short-tempered, Beth has warm memories with her mother, too.

“My mom was very religious and I think that was a safe haven for her after the divorce. And she loved going to yard sales and finding bargains. We would we would be driving and we would see like blueberry bushes with ripe blueberries and we would pull over and, and pick blueberries. She didn’t have time after the divorce because of all the working, but she liked to bake and she liked to decorate cakes. And I have a picture of me at one with a cake that she decorated.”

Something you need to know about Margaret: She had strong beliefs and was often compelled to voice those beliefs when they were challenged.

“She wrote letters about movies that she disagreed with, that she either wanted then to get stronger ratings or to make sure that children weren’t seeing them…She had a very strong moral compass. And she would speak out when something violated that,” Beth explained.

Margaret would speak out even in the face of danger.

“So she worked at the motel and she worked at the night shift. She was robbed several times and she fought back. She would yell at people who tried to take money from her and tell them that what they were doing was wrong and they shouldn’t be doing it,” Beth continued, “And in fact, she was cautioned by the police to not do that. But I think that was kind of an inherent part of who she was, that she confronted wrongdoing when she saw it.”


Part of working multiple jobs with an overnight shift at the hotel meant finding childcare. Margaret’s father, Beth’s vovô – that’s Portuguese for grandfather – stayed with the kids overnight. It was a routine Beth remembers well. That was how the night of August 20, 1979 began. But what was a routine night became an earth-shattering morning.

“My grandfather came over as usual. He wouldn’t be there that long before it was bedtime. And we got up and I remember the first part of the morning being normal. I believe her shift ended at 7:00. And so by 7:45 there was this weird tension, and I don’t even know that I necessarily picked up on it that much at the time. I was like in and out of the house playing in the backyard. But on some level it was clear to me that my grandfather was agitated.”

According to 1979 reporting in the Boston Globe, Margaret’s shift ended at 7 a.m. The hotel in Seekonk, Massachusetts was less than 6 miles away from her home on Holland Avenue in Riverside, Rhode Island. The hands of the clock ticked past 7:45, and then 8 o’clock. Beth isn’t sure exactly when the phone call came, but she remembers what it was about.

“The phone rang and it was a reporter from a local radio station who wanted to talk to somebody about my mom’s murder,” Beth rememeberd.

“I have two older brothers. The one who’s more in the middle, just a year and a half older than me, picked up the phone and then gave it to my grandfather. And I actually remember very clearly he kept repeating on the phone, and I don’t know if the reporter was even still there at that point, but he said ‘she was so good and so young, why did she have to die?’ And he repeated that.”


Margaret Pizio’s shift began at 11 p.m. on August 20, 1979. She was one of only two people who worked the third shift. The other, a security guard named Eddie Wright, was a new installment at the hotel to beef up their security in the wake of several incidents. Margaret had been robbed three times in the two years she worked at the Susse Chalet Motor Inn. And at a sister property, the Hartford Susse Chalet, the motel clerk was shot to death during a robbery in April of the same year.

Also part of the new security procedure at the hotel was a lock on the door to the reception area. The front desk was equipped with a buzzer system so that anyone wanting to enter while the doors were locked had to be buzzed in. 

Beth explained, “This was a 24 hour motel and at the time it had a door that locked, but it was never locked because anybody could come in at any time, but after a couple of the robberies, they actually started locking that door from like midnight to 6:00 AM or something along those lines. And then she would have to buzz people in from behind the reception desk.”

After the security guard clocked out at 4:30 a.m. Margaret was the only one working at the hotel. She buzzed in the newspaper delivery man around 4:45 a.m. And by 6 a.m. she was making wakeup calls to guestrooms. Sometime between those wakeup calls and 8 a.m. when the day shift clerk tried to get into the lobby, Margaret Pizio was brutally attacked. 

Beth learned that when the day shift hotel clerk showed up to relieve Margaret of her duties sometime around 7 a.m. Margaret didn’t respond or answer when she buzzed the door. The woman didn’t have keys of her own so she waited, thinking maybe Margaret had fallen asleep. She buzzed the door again, and waited a bit longer, not wanting to get management involved unnecessarily if her co-worker had dozed off after a long night. But after an hour, she couldn’t wait any longer. 

Source material indicates that police helped the day shift employee remove the door from its hinges to finally gain access to the hotel lobby. I’m not sure why police were called at that point and not a manager with a key, but regardless, police would soon have to respond to the scene anyway. They found Margaret Pizio behind the desk with multiple injuries.

“She bled out in the lobby behind the reception desk. And that’s most of what we know,” Beth told me.