Investigator: Case not cold

Published 8:43 pm Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lead Investigator Tommy Calhoun continues the investigation into the disappearance of Melinda Wall McGhee.

Lead Investigator Tommy Calhoun continues the investigation into the disappearance of Melinda Wall McGhee.

Tommy Calhoun is not a household name in the Atmore area, but he may know more about one of the town’s biggest mysteries than anyone else connected to it. Calhoun has been heading up the decade-long case of the disappearance of Melinda Wall McGhee on and off since 2004, even working leads for free at times all as part of what he says has been a non-stop effort to locate the missing wife and mother of two.

Calhoun, who returned to the case in an official capacity in 2012 after nearly three years with the state attorney general’s office, said the duration of the investigation does not make it a “cold case.”

“We have employed a strategy that you normally would employ in a cold case,” he said. “We are going back and looking over everything again.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith said Calhoun is the expert on the subject and worked tirelessly to locate McGhee even during his time in Montgomery.

“He worked from the state level in that capacity as long as he was there,” Smith said. “He always stayed in touch with what was going on.”
Despite the tactics currently being used in the investigation, Calhoun said the case is not cold, but remains very active, adding leads are being followed even now.

Following the press conference held Monday, Calhoun said he could not divulge specifics about remaining suspects in the case, but added there is more than just one person his team is investigating.

“There are several individuals that are highly interesting to us,” Calhoun said. “At least one is incarcerated, while the others are out there free.”

Calhoun said a recent submission of McGhee’s dental record into a national database is also a method the team is using to gain information.
While he said he does expect to solve a homicide, not a missing person’s case, Calhoun too is hopeful closure may soon be found for the family.

“Technically this could be a missing person with suspicion of foul play,” he said. “But there is no reason to believe she is still alive.”

In 2010 a death certificate was issued for McGhee following the seven-year waiting period necessary for a missing person to be declared deceased.

Whether McGhee is actually the victim of a homicide, a kidnapping or some other form of foul play, with his experience, it seems local authorities will continue to look to Calhoun as the person with the best chance of ending what has now reached a decade of sorrow, confusion and unrest for family members of McGhee, and members of the communities she was a part of.