Monday, September 6, 2010

Body Found In Creek Behind Valley Packing

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An investigation into the 1983 murder of 24-year-old Kerry Lynn Melnick, of Lansing, is “progressing in a positive direction,” according to Belmont County Sheriff Fred Thompson, who says “someone has come forward with information about the case” and investigators have a person of interest with whom they would like to speak.
 The sheriff said a “person of interest” may not always be considered as a suspect but may be a material witness to a crime or someone who has pertinent information which may be helpful to investigators.
“We are still investigating this case and would like to hear from anyone who may be able to help,” the sheriff said.
Melnick’s body was found on Aug. 2, 1983, in Wheeling Creek behind the former Valley Packing by two railroad workers. An autopsy by then-Coroner Thomas Ring revealed the woman died from internal bleeding as a result of blunt force trauma to the abdomen.
Sheriff Thompson said the initial investigation continued for about a year and then went cold until 2000 when former Belmont County Deputy Mary Graham picked it up again and began talking with people.
“When I came into office (Jan. 2005) I felt the case needed to be re-opened,” Thompson said.
He said a man came forward with relevant information in February of 2006 after a local television station ran a story on the case.
According to published reports the day after the crime, the sheriff’s department received an anonymous call from a man who claimed to have information about the case. The man refused to give his name but said he would come forward if authorities needed him. The caller reportedly indicated he would base his decision to cooperate on what he read in local newspapers about the case. Investigators issued a plea for the caller to make contact again but the call never came.
Sheriff Thompson said there is no way of knowing if the original anonymous caller is the same person who came forward in 2006.
During his crime scene investigation then-Sheriff Richard Stobbs said circumstances surrounding the death are “somewhat peculiar.”
 He told local media the death was a result of a suicide, an accident or foul play and investigators have rejected several suicide or accident possibilities.  
Stobbs was quoted as saying “we may just not be able to come up with anything”.
An obituary notice of Melnick’s death indicated she was survived by her husband, Fred. G. Melnick; a 3-year-old daughter, Nicole; her parents, Richard Dale and Mary Ann Dalto Roberts; a sister, Nettie Kay Roberts of Bridgeport; a brother, Charles Joseph Roberts of St. Clairsville; and her paternal grandmother, Clyo Jeannette Roberts of Bridgeport.

We encourage anyone who may have information about this case to contact us at

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