Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance
Details of Disappearance
Melissa was last seen during a Christmas party held at the Woodside Apartments, her apartment complex in Fairfax, Virginia. She disappeared while attending a party held at the complex for its residents. A search began almost immediately, with over 300 volunteers participating.
Handyman Caleb Hughes became the prime suspect that very evening through witness accounts. Police visited his apartment during the night, where his wife cooperated with police. The clothes he was wearing at the time of the disappearance were found in the Hughes's washing machine, but yet to be washed. Police seized them as evidence. Police also took the vehicle Hughes had been driving and examined the passenger's seat for fiber evidence. Hughes's wife was key in the investigation. She reported his arrival home from work several hours later than usual and extra mileage on the vehicle that could not be explained. He explained it as a side trip he took to purchase a 6-pack of beer and then he took a longer route home.
Fibers were extracted from the front seat of the vehicle. Melissa had been reported as wearing a Big Bird dress that had been purchased from J.C. Penney. An identical dress was obtained by investigators and its fibers were compared with those found on the seat. A match was found. Also found were some hairs from a rare rabbit fur coat of Melissa's mother that she wore at the party. This proved that Melissa was probably in the passenger's seat that evening. Hughes was charged with kidnapping with intent to defile. He was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison Her body has never been found, she was never proven to be dead, and murder charges were never filed.
In 1995, a search of a lake was made after a power company worker found some red cloth in the lake. No evidence of a body was found.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Fairfax County Police Department