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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Twenty-five years after the disappearance of his daughter, Luis Melendi is still seeking closure and fighting for justice.
Shannon Melendi disappeared in Atlanta on March 26, 1994. A student at Emory University, Shannon was 19 years old at the time. She was working as a scorekeeper at a softball game when she vanished.
In 2006, a convicted sex offender, Colvin “Butch” Hinton, who had worked as an umpire at the softball game, was found guilty of killing the South Florida girl. After exhausting all appeals, Hinton confessed to kidnapping, raping and strangling Shannon, who was a graduate of Miami Southwest High School, where she had been junior and senior class president.
Her plans were to graduate from Emory with a degree in Spanish and political science. After college, she planned to join the Navy as a way to pay for law school. Her ultimate dream was to practice law in Washington, D.C. and someday serve on the Supreme Court.
After his conviction, Hinton was sentenced to life in prison.
Under the conditions of his sentence, he is eligible for parole every seven years, Luis Melendi said. His next parole hearing, according to Melendi, will be before February of 2020.
To keep Hinton behind bars, Melendi is circulating a petition asking the Georgia Parole Board to deny his parole requests.
Here is a link to the petition.
“He destroyed not only Shannon and all she could have been but he destroyed my family including my younger daughter,” Melendi said of Hinton.
Hinton is the only Georgia inmate serving a life sentence for a case in which the victim’s body was never found. Melendi worries the Georgia Parole Board may one-day grant Hinton parole.
“I’m hoping he will never be considered for parole, said Melendi, who runs a small photo studio in Key Largo. “I want him dead now, I want him to die to finally leave our family alone because it’s never ending.”
In his 2006 confession, Hinton said he invited Shannon to lunch at a Burger King after the softball game. After lunch, he convinced her to drive his car. He said he pulled out a knife and ordered Shannon to drive to his house, where he tied her to a bed. He confessed to raping her and strangling her with a necktie. He claims he burned her body and disposed of the ashes near a set of railroad tracks. Shannon’s body was never found.
For strength, Melendi relies on his wife Yvonne and daughter Monique. A portrait in his studio shows him with Yvonne and Monique. There is a bright white glow in the background representing Shannon.
“Shannon is an angel who is always around us to protect us,” Melendi said. “She will always be with us.”