Details of Disappearance Melissa was last seen by her mother inside their home on March 3, 1997. Her mother reported her missing two days later, on March 5. She had run away from home on several prior occasions.
In September 1999, a 32-year-old Lowell man named James Howley hanged himself after being questioned in the kidnapping and murder of an eleven-year-old Lowell girl, Tabitha Potter. Potter's body was found in Shedd Park three days after she was reported missing.
After Howley's death, police were able to identify him as the killer through DNA and other forensic testing. He knew Melissa and they were reportedly seeing each other, and Melissa and Tabitha Potter were friends.
Howley is considered a suspect in Melissa's disappearance. There have been many reports with regards to her whereabouts over the years, but none have panned out. Authorities are not ruling out the possibility of foul play in her disappearance, which remains unsolved.
- Middlesex District Attorney's Office
- Lowell Police Department
Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated June 26, 2011; distinguishing characteristics and details of disappearance updated.