Details of Disappearance
Holly was last seen at approximately 9:30 p.m. on July 15, 1981 near Richmond Terrace and Park Avenue in the New York City borough of Staten Island. Her mother sent her to the Port Richmond Deli two blocks away to purchase a bar of Ivory soap, and she was last seen buying it. She never returned home and has never been heard from again.
A month after Holly's disappearance, her mother, Holly Cederholm, received a phone call from a man who identified himself as "Sal." Sal told Cederholm he was holding the child captive, and demanded that Cederholm meet him and perform sex acts on film in exchange for Holly's safe return.
Cederholm went with detectives to meet Sal at Penn Station in New York City, but he never showed up. She stated that she never believed Sal really had Holly; by this time, she thought Holly was dead.
Holly's parents have criticized the police for allegedly botching their investigation into the child's disappearance; they disregarded many witnesses who said they saw Holly because the witnesses had criminal records. Holly's half-brother is now a New York City police detective. Investigators deny any misconduct in Holly's case. Her family described her as a streetwise little girl who could take care of herself.
Andre Rand, a mentally incompetent convicted child sex offender from New York, was charged with first-degree kidnapping in connection with Holly's disappearance in 2001. Photos of him are posted with this case summary.
Rand, whose birth name is Frank Rashan, is also believed to be connected to the disappearances of Alice Pereira
in 1972, Ethel Atwell
in 1978, Tiahease Jackson
in 1983, and Henry Gafforio
in 1984, among other missing persons' cases. There is speculation that Rand may have been involved with the 1977 disappearance of Audrey Nerenberg
All of the victims vanished from the Staten Island area, with the exception of Nerenberg. Authorities determined that Rand's aunt lived in the same Port Richmond apartment building where Holly's family resided in 1981.
Rand was previously convicted in connection with the 1987 New York kidnapping of a twelve-year-old girl named Jennifer Schweiger, who had Down Syndrome. She was murdered on the grounds of the now-defunct Staten Island Developmental Center (formerly known as the Willowbrook State School) near his campsite. He was not convicted of her murder; the jury could not reach a verdict on that charge.
Officials searched the yard of Rand's former Vreeland Street residence in Staten Island in January 2002, but evidence related to Holly's case was not located. Authorities questioned Rand and searched his vehicle shortly after Holly disappeared, but he was not charged in her case until 20 years later.
Officers and inmates at the prison where Rand is currently incarcerated testified regarding conversations in which he allegedly bragged about his pedophiliac exploits. He reportedly confessed Holly's murder to an inmate and compared himself to the serial killer Ted Bundy.
Cederholm identified Rand's voice as the same voice she heard during the extortion phone call. Witnesses testified that they saw Rand's green Volkswagen circling the area of the store where Holly disappeared in 1981. Some say they even saw Holly in Rand's car.
He admitted to playing a hide-and-go-seek game with Holly on the day of her disappearance, and to giving her money to buy soap because she was "dirty," but says he left her before she disappeared.
Rand's attorneys maintained that their client is innocent, and that the witnesses who claim to have seen Holly in his car are lying or mistaken. His lawyers attempted to throw suspicion on the child's family. Prior to her disappearance, Holly had been the subject of a custody dispute between her parents and had been taken by both of them at one time or another, but her parents have been ruled out as suspects in her 1981 disappearance.
Rand was convicted of kidnapping Holly in October 2004. Rand was never charged with the child's murder due to a lack of evidence. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He is also serving 25 years to life for the Schweiger kidnapping. The second sentence makes it extremely unlikely that he will ever be freed. Rand maintains his innocence in all crimes suspected of him.
Holly has never been found.