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Emory University student Shannon Melendi’s killer could get parole

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By ADAM MURPHY

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    ATLANTA, GA (WGCL) — Nearly three decades after the murder of Emory University student Shannon Melendi, her body has never been found. Her father Luis is still seeking closure.

“Every time I see in the news a missing girl it brings all kinds of bad memories,” Luis Melendi said.

On March 26, 1994, 19-year-old Shannon Melendi was kidnapped from the Softball Country Club in Atlanta where she worked as a scorekeeper. The Emory University student became the target of a massive search.

“It has just been 27-28 years of insanity for our family having to deal with this criminal,” Luis Melendi said.

Nearly 10 years after she disappeared, Colvin “Butch” Hinton, a convicted sex offender, who worked as an umpire at the softball club, was found guilty of killing Shannon. He was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

“We’ve been dealing with Hinton and his life in prison that is not life in prison because 80% of the murderers in Georgia get out after 20 years,” Luis Melendi said.

Melendi feels let down by the court system in Georgia where Hinton is eligible for parole every seven years. He will go before the board in 2025.

Criminal defense attorney Chinwe Foster said the Melendi’s best hope for keeping their daughter’s killer behind bars is to share their concerns with the parole board.

“I believe in 1994 that the detectives and police just did not have the tools that they do now,” Foster said. “When you don’t have a body, you don’t have a crime scene and prosecutors are basically operating on just circumstantial evidence.”

“I don’t think I’ll ever get closure. I was really hoping that we outlive him. Me and my wife. My wife just died of COVID and he’s still there,” Luis Melendi said.

While Luis Melendi may never get full closure, he encouraged others, including Gabby Petito’s family, to reject a plea deal and seek the death penalty.

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