One year and still no answers for family of Atmore woman
Published 11:38 am Monday, March 29, 2004
By By ARTHUR MCLEAN Special to The Standard
Tonight brings the close of one year since the disappearance of Melinda Wall-McGhee.
A candlelight vigil will be held at Cross Point Baptist Church tonight, marking the end of a year of frustration, sorrow and tears for the Wall and McGhee families.
On March 24, 2003, Melinda Wall-McGhee came home to her family's house on Kent Road in Poarch. Just off from her night shift at Oakland Nursing Home in Bay Minette, it was just before 8 a.m. when she came home to sleep, and morning was giving way to a typically sunny spring day in Atmore.
She called her mother and her husband Troy, talked about her day and who would pick up the kids.
After that, March 24 stopped being normal for the Wall and McGhee families, and it would never be the same.
A child's exuberance made the first discovery. The rest of the family made it home just before 4 p.m. Racing ahead to wake his mother one of the children found blood stains, and nothing more.
Nothing else added up. Her car was parked near the house; the keys were locked inside. Her purse, her phone, all at home.
Soon after, the realization that Melinda had been abducted bared down on the family, gnawing their hearts and knotting the pits of their stomachs. As if a heavy cloud had rolled overhead, darkness fell upon the family.
The evidence led investigators to one conclusion. She hadn't left on her own. Someone had taken her from her home.
The Escambia County Sheriff's Department, Alabama Bureau of Investigations, nearly a dozen other local agencies came to investigate, aid the investigation, or help in searching for the 31-year-old mother and wife.
Now, a year later, the Wall and McGhee families are still dealing with the loss. Their hopes for her safe return all but gone. "It would take a miracle – we can only assume she's dead," said her sister Amanda McGhee. "We're just asking for people to pray."
She said the family knows law officers are still concerned with the case, but the lack of anything new for the family to follow, has long since turned to frustration, and for some, the frustration has turned to anger.
For Amanda, "the past 10 months have been a blur. We're still waiting on tomorrow. We're still hurting."
Escambia County Sheriff Grover Smith said the case is still a priority for the department. Recently, the department convinced the FBI to open a case file on the McGhee disapperance. "We're very excited about this new development, and we hope they will be able to bring some new insight and help with processing evidence," Smith said.
Smith said he understands the family's frustration. "It's our job to investigate these things. It's just frustrating to have to tell the family there's nothing new."
Amanda McGhee said she believed law officials were doing what they could. "I guess we get the misconception from TV, and think there are answers coming soon. I've been doing research, and from what I know now, answers could take years."
The family is working to have Melinda's case presented on the television show "America's Most Wanted," but they've had little success so far. Amanda McGhee said there was some difficulty getting case information to the show.
Sheriff Smith said he has a strict policy about releasing information from active cases, but he promised; "I'm still optimistic that we will find out what happened. You come back, and we'll still be working on this case, and we won't stop until the person who took her is in jail, preferably on death row."
A candlelight vigil will be held in Melinda Wall-McGhee's memory at Cross Point Baptist Church on Jack Springs Road from 5 – 7 p.m. There will be no formal ceremony. The family simply asks that friends and those concerned come, light a candle and say a prayer.