PARK COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - CBS4 has learned the FBI is taking a different approach to the unsolved 2017 murder of Maggie Long in Park County. In a statement to CBS4, the agency wrote, "The FBI is investigating the murder of Maggie Long as a Hate Crime Matter. A Hate Crime is a criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by the individual's bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnicity/national origin, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity."
Maggie Long was Asian-American. There have not been any arrests or any suspects identified in the unsolved murder.
Long was 17 years old when she was found murdered at her family home in Bailey, Colorado.
Although initially considered a "crime of opportunity" with some items stolen from the home, the investigation is now focusing on a potentially bias-motivated crime.
One of Maggie's sisters, Connie Long, said, "So to have this be a possibility is a little surprising, but at the same time, in some ways it makes sense."
Another sister, Lynna Long, said, "This is an angle that wasn't looked into in the past, and at this point it is no stone left unturned. Looking at the extent of violence in this crime, that is certainly an angle to look more closely into."
She said she hoped the shift in focus would encourage people to reconsider interactions they had with others around that time, and if anyone expressed bias toward Asian-Americans.
"I think this is important to consider. It is something we haven't really focused on in the past."
The sisters said they didn't notice any overt anti-Asian discrimination when they lived in Park County. After three and a half years since her sister's death, Lynna is hoping any potential witnesses might feel safer speaking out now and sharing information and tips.
"Now is the time to share what you know," she said. Speaking of the perpetrators, she said, "That's not the type of people we want in our society, and it's a matter of time before they hurt or kill somebody else. With now looking into the angle of is it race-related, it is that much more critical that this crime is solved."
While the FBI declined to elaborate on its reasoning for now viewing the case as a potential hate crime, the agency reiterated its interest in hearing from anyone who may know something about what happened.
"Helpful information could include descriptions of individuals or vehicles seen in/around the vicinity of the property, individuals with demonstrated knowledge of what happened at the Long residence on the day of Maggie's murder, etc."
The reward in the case is $75,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.
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