Details of Disappearance
Melissa and her infant daughter, Jasmine
, were last seen in Akron, Ohio on August 8, 1991. At 4:00 p.m., Melissa's mother dropped her daughter and granddaughter off at Melissa's apartment in the 100 block of Westwood Avenue. At around 7:30 p.m., Melissa and Jasmine left to walk to a grocery store four blocks from their residence. Neither of them has been seen again.
It's uncharacteristic of Melissa to be out of touch with her family; she usually spoke to her mother daily by phone. Even when she ran away for a month while she was pregnant with Jasmine, Melissa called her parents to let them know she was safe. Her mother described her as a very trusting teenager.
When her mother went to Melissa's apartment after the disappearance, she found no indications that Melissa had planned to leave with her child. Her puse was in the bedroom, her clothes were freshly washed and folded, and there was a stock of diapers for Jasmine, as well as baby bottles in the fridge. Melissa's mother doesn't believe she would have left without taking her belongings and Jasmine's baby supplies.
The last person to claim he saw Melissa and Jasmine is also the prime suspect in their cases. Raymond "Sweet Pea" Smith Jr. was staying with a woman who sublet her apartment to Melissa at the time. A photo of him is posted with this case summary. Smith said he saw Melissa and Jasmine leave the apartment that evening, and he himself left shortly after did. When he returned to the apartment a day or two later, his clothes were bloodstained.
Smith had a history of violence, drug abuse and mental illness, with prior convictions for crimes ranging from drug offenses, sexual imposition and aggravated assault. Melissa had told her mother she was afraid of him and that he had made unwanted advances towards her.
In February 1992, six months after Melissa and Jasmine disappeared, Smith died by suicide at the age of 37. He didn't leave a note and the motive for his suicide is unclear, but he was facing serious criminal charges and didn't want to return to prison. He was never charged in connection with the Collinses' disappearances; in fact, the police never even interviewed him about it.
The Collins cases are still unsolved, but foul play is suspected due to the circumstances involved.