BELMONT COUNTY, Ohio (WTRF) — Thirty-six years ago, a young wife and mother was found dead in a creek.
Officials say 24-year-old Kerry Melnick of Lansing died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen.
Her daughter, three years old at the time, is still trying to learn the truth.
Nicole Roberts is pursuing her masters degree in forensic psychology, and is still trying to understand the crime that forever altered her life.
“People would look at me and say, ‘Oh you’re Kerry’s daughter. Aww.’ “She still remembers waking up Aug. 2, 1983, and her mother wasn’t there.
“I remember going out into the kitchen and living room area where the front door was, and I remember seeing muddy footprints coming into the house,” she said.
Hours later, her mother’s body was discovered in the creek behind Valley Packing.Belmont County Sheriff Dave Lucas was a young deputy at the time.
He remembers talking to the three-year-old Nicole, who told him what she heard.
“Her parents were in an argument,” Lucas recalled. “Not a fight, but an argument, a dispute, that night.”
Nicole says her father, Fred Melnick, told people they argued and his wife left.
But Kerry’s parents said she didn’t drive and she didn’t like the dark.And they said she would never have left her child, who was always with her.
Nicole says a witness—a man who delivered newspapers in the early morning hours—came forward years later.
She says the man said he saw a tan car with wood paneled sides come speeding out from behind Valley Packing at 4 a.m. the morning Kerry Melnick died.
Nicole said her father had several vehicles at the time, one of which was a tan car with wood grain sides. Nicole says her father left the area soon afterward.
“I believe he said his initial intent was to come back and get me when he got settled, but that never happened,” she said.They spoke occasionally on the phone.
She says he hasn’t called since she was 19, not even when she got married.
Witness statements from the case files reflect an angry man.“They said he was a little aggressive, a little weird,” she said. “And that he spoke often of how unhappy he was in his marriage.”
Sheriff Lucas says this case has been re-opened three times.And he’d like to see it solved.
“It has been on my mind,” he said. “In fact, there’s nothing I’d love more than to have this case put to rest and give closure to the family.”
“I’m going to keep trying until they tell me there’s no chance,” concluded Nicole.
Anyone with any information is urged to call the Belmont County Sheriff’s Department at (740) 695-7933.