Special Report: Unsolved – The Melissa Simmons Case Part 1
*This is part 1 of a 2-part series. For part 2 click here.
The summer of 1993 is one that still haunts the town of Scottville.
That’s when 15 year old Melissa Simmons was found dead in the Pere Marquette River.
June 23, 1993. 15 year old Melissa Simmons sets out for a gas station not far from her Scottville home. It would be the last time she was reported being seen alive. Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole was a deputy in the department back in 1993. He says Melissa was reported missing by her family several days after she was last seen walking to the Wesco.
“Melissa’s family was known in the area and Melissa was well known. She was an example of what Scottville was all about in her youth,” said Cole.
The investigation would eventually center on a stretch of the Pere Marquette River. That’s because a fisherman found Melissa’s body not far from Indian Bridge several days after she was last seen alive.
“A substantial amount of the evidence unfortunately was destroyed by the river and the water, but Kent County medical examiner concluded Melissa’s death was a homicide and we have been following leads ever since then,” said Cole.
Word of Melissa’s death quickly spread and questions quickly arose. How did her body end up in the river several miles from where she was last seen and more importantly, who killed her?
“The death obviously created a lot of anxiety because people didn’t know and to this day they don’t what happened. Anytime you have a child who is murdered, there is a lot of anxiety in an area because of the unknown. You don’t know if this person will strike again,” said Cole.
9&10 News spoke to one woman who was just 5 when Melissa was found dead. She still remembers the fear that seemed to grip the town of Scottville. She also asked us to not reveal her identity, worried that Melissa’s killer is still out there.
“I do remember that everyone was really concerned about kids, we couldn’t go out. My family used to go down to Indian Bridge all the time, we were always there fishing. We stopped going to Indian Bridge after that,” the woman said.
And the same questions first raised 26 years ago, endure to this day.
“No one likes an unsolved mystery in their town. No one likes the idea of a murderer running free,” said the woman.
If you know anything about what happened to Melissa Simmons, call the Mason County Sheriff’s Office at (231) 843-3475.