Justice for MelindaPublished 9:22pm Tuesday, March 26, 2013
The search for an Atmore woman now missing for a decade is still active. That was the message from Sheriff Grover Smith Monday morning at a press conference commemorating the ten-year anniversary of the disappearance of Melinda Wall McGhee from her home.
“This has never been a cold case that has been shut up and put in a filing cabinet,” Smith said. “This has been on someone’s desk for 10 years. It is an active investigation.”
Smith and other law enforcement agents, including lead investigator Tommy Calhoun, said although no new leads have been uncovered, the investigation is still very much alive.
“We are going back and talking to all of the people we have talked to before,” Calhoun said. “We are pursuing interviews, facts and witnesses. We are drilling down very deep.”
Smith said, while McGhee’s case is now considered a homicide investigation, it is important that justice, not revenge, be exacted.
“Nothing can ever make it right,” he said. “Not retribution. Not revenge, but justice.”
In a statement released from McGhee’s family, law enforcement officers were thanked for their continuing efforts into the disappearance.
“Our family still fights a daily battle,” they said. “We want to express our appreciation to all law enforcement that has worked on her case. We continue to hope for closure and ask that anyone with any information call law enforcement, no matter how small you think it may be.”
McGhee went missing from her home on the morning of March 24, 2003, after returning home from a 12-hour shift at Oakwood Nursing Home in Bay Minette. According to investigators, she was last seen at a local convenience store at approximately 7 a.m. and last heard from when she placed a phone call that morning to her mother. Blood and signs of a struggle were found in the home when McGhee’s husband, Troy, returned home from his job at Masland Carpets that afternoon.
Despite several “persons of interest” and tips to the possible whereabouts of McGhee’s body over the years, Smith said no lead has panned out, adding the lack of closure weighs heavy on the family and the community.
“This didn’t just make victims of Melinda’s family, but they have made victims of all of us,” Smith said.
Smith also issued a warning to the person, or persons, responsible for McGhee’s disappearance.
“Rest assured that we will never rest,” he said. “When you hear something over your shoulder, that might be us coming. We are not going to quit and we are not going to let you rest.”
In 2003, a volunteer search was held under the direction of the sheriff’s department, but nothing was found. In 2009, a tip led investigators to search a gravel pit located off Jack Springs Road, but once again, nothing was uncovered.
Currently, a $10,000 reward offered originally by the governor, as well as an additional $5,000 reward offered by the family is still available to anyone with any information that leads to an arrest and prosecution in McGhee’s case.