Exclusive: Sister Addresses McGhee Disappearance; Sheriff Has Message For Abductor
March 26, 2013
It has been a decade since Melinda Wall McGhee went missing from her Atmore home, a decade that has been a living nightmare for her sister Lisa Wooten.
Wooten said Monday that she’s never held any hope that her sister will be found alive since the moment she learned the details of McGhee’s disappearance .
“I live everyday with no hope that she will be found alive,” Wooten said in an exclusive interview with NorthEscambia.com. “I knew from the first day, I knew and believed at that moment that she was murdered.”
For Wooten, her hope now centers on closure and justice.
“Every time I hear that remains have been found somewhere, I pray that it will be my sister,” she said. “We are still hoping someone with come forward with something. We want to to find out what happened, who did it, and bring them to justice.”
The case still haunts Escambia County (Ala.) Sheriff Grover Smith.
“We’re all a little concerned when we lay our head down and sleep, to know that a person can be abducted from their home in broad daylight, and ten years later we still have no answers,” he said.
Smith also had a message of justice for McGhee’s abductor — or murderer — at a press conference held Monday.
“We also want to remind the person who took Melinda McGhee, that every time you hear a footstep behind you, every time you hear a noise in the night, it could be us. We’re not gonna quit. We are never going to let you rest and we’re going to do everything in our power that God gives us the wisdom to seek to do, to find out where Melinda is and where you are if you’re the person who took her.”
Smith said foul play was certainly part of McGhee’s disappearance, and he vowed his department will continue their investigation. A special investigator, Tommy Calhoun, is leading the search for the suspect.
Smith said sometimes he doubts the abductor will be found locally. “The type person that will commit a crime like this is likely to commit another similar crime in 10 years,” he said. “That has not happened here.”
“People remain suspects until they can be cleared, and there are several individuals we are highly interested in that we will not clear until we have sufficient evidence and information that they are no longer a suspect,” Calhou said. Some of those people have refused to speak to investigators for the past 10 years.
The morning of March 24, 2003, was a sunny start to the first day of spring break. Melinda Wall McGhee, then 31, returned to her home about 8 a.m. after working the night shift as a nurse at a Bay Minette nursing home.
Her husband, Troy McGhee, was at work at Masland Carpets in Atmore. Their two children were at a babysitter, and Troy’s son from a previous relationship was at a dentist’s office. At about 8:30 the morning of March 24, 2003, Melinda McGhee spoke to her mother on the phone. It was the last time anyone known to Melinda would ever hear from her.
At about 4:00 that afternoon, husband Troy came home to find Melinda missing. There was blood and evidence of a violent struggle inside the home. He reported his wife missing.
In 2010, authorities issued a death certificate for McGhee after a required seven year waiting period passed.
When asked what she would like to say directly to the person responsible for the disappearance of her sister, Wooten said, “I don’t want him to know the pain, the hurt, the anger I’ve felt for the last 10 years. He is not worthy of any of my words.”
Anyone with information about McGhee’s disappearance is asked to call Investigator Tommy Calhoun at (251) 809-2154 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. A reward of up to $15,000 is offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Pictured top inset: Melinda Wall McGhee’s mother Ouida and her sister, Lisa Wooten, sit quietly behind pictures of McGhee during a press conference Monday in Poarch, AL. Pictured inset: Escambia County (AL) Sheriff Grover Smith (left) and Investigator Tommy Calhoun discuss McGhee’s disappearance. Pictured bottom: Representatives from contingent of law enforcement agencies that have worked the case for the past 10 years. NorthEscambia.com photos, click to enlarge.