McGhee search draws over 250
Published 3:09 am Saturday, April 5, 2003
By By Paul Keane
POARCH – More than 250 people – some representing various law enforcement and search and rescue departments and others just caring neighbors and citizens – searched a nearly 40-mile square radius in Escambia and Baldwin Counties in an attempt to find Melinda Wall McGhee.
McGhee was reported missing on March 24, and investigators have been following leads and looking for clues since then. Signs of a struggle were found inside her home on Kent Drive, but officials have said they are still looking for leads in the case.
Members of McGhee's family said Saturday morning before the search began in earnest that they were touched by the turnout, and that they hoped to get some relief by having some clues found. As of press time, no new leads or clues had been found.
Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith said he wasn't surprised by the large turnout.
"I'm not surprised at all," he said. "This is just indicative of the kind of people that live here and throughout the area. Many of these people are part of search and rescue teams or law enforcement departments, but a lot of them are just God-fearing folks that care about someone in their community. Many of them might not even know Melinda, but they are here to help in anyway they can simply because they care."
Weather was threatening to cut the search short Saturday, as officials had blocked off a 36-square-mile radius which was expanded to approximately 40 miles. The area began at the home of McGhee and expanded outward from there, reaching portions of Baldwin County and Escambia County, Fla.
Before the search began, Smith said he and his staff are not giving up hope of solving the case.
"If we don't find anything, then we'll be out looking again," he said. "There is no statue of limitations on this case. It's not closed until Melinda is found alive or the person or people that did this are brought to justice."
Members of the Baldwin County Sheriff's Department, Mobile County Sheriff's Department, Monroe County Sheriff's Department, Escambia County, Fla., Sheriff's Department, United States Marines, Atmore Police Department, Pritchard Police Department, Alabama Bureau of Investigation, Atmore Fire Department, Perdido Fire Department, Walnut Hill Fire Department and nearly every fire department in the area was involved in the search.