Details of Disappearance
Rachel was a seventh-grader at Ward Middle School in 1996. On January 31 of that year, she stayed home from school due to a sore throat. She was last seen taking a nap in her bedroom at her family's residence in Bolingbrook, Illinois sometime during the afternoon. She was wrapped in a blue blanket at the time her stepfather, Vincent Mellon, last saw her.
Vincent stated he and Rachel played video games together, then he she fell asleep and he left the house to take the family's German Shepherd for a walk at 2:30 p.m. He left the door unlocked while he was gone. He said the dog slipped off its leash to chase a rabbit and as a a result, he was gone longer than he intended to be. He didn't return to the house until half an hour later.
Authorities maintain that Vincent never checked on Rachel when he returned home, but he stated that he did indeed notice his stepdaughter had disappeared after he finished the walk. Rachel was apparently reported missing to investigators at approximately 5:00 p.m. when her mother, Amy Mellon, and some other family members arrived home. She has never been heard from again.
Two pillows and the blue blanket she was wrapped in are also missing. Her winter clothes, shoes, and coat were not taken, even though the wind chill was twenty degrees below zero outside that day. Her purse and Walkman were also left behind at her residence. There were no indications of forced entry. An extensive search of the surrounding area turned up no signs of Rachel. Authorities stated she could not have survived long if she was outside and exposed to the elements.
Initially it was thought that some of Rachel's relatives had taken her out of the state, but that theory has since been discarded. Her bank account has not been touched since her disappearance, and there was no evidence that she'd purchased plane or bus tickets to go anywhere.
Vincent gave blood, semen, saliva and hair samples to authorities in 2000 when Rachel's case was reopened and a grand jury was convened to investigate. Authorities obtained a warrant to get the samples.
Amy stated that she believed Rachel was alive and other persons knew her whereabouts. The Mellon family's attorneys said that the case was being re-investigated due to interest from the television program America's Most Wanted, which wanted to run a segment regarding Rachel's disappearance.
Authorities have stated that they believe foul play was involved in Rachel's disappearance. Vincent has been considered a possible suspect in her case for several years. He had scratches on his body after her disappearance; he said he was injured while repairing his car. He has a long record for domestic violence and he failed lie detector tests in connection with Rachel's disappearance. The grand jury investigation ended in 2000 without any indictments handed down.
Rachel ran away and stayed at a friend's home over a year before her 1996 disappearance. She voluntarily returned home shortly after her departure. Authorities do not believe that she ran away in 1996. She kept a diary which police read after her disappearance. In one entry, written months before she vanished, she wrote that Vincent had kissed her and touched her inappropriately.
Rachel's father, Jeff Skemp, was living in Dallas, Texas at the time of her disappearance. He had separated from Amy when Rachel was a toddler. Skemp stated that the day Rachel vanished, she telephoned his mother. He said this was out of the ordinary for Rachel, as she was not allowed to talk to her grandmother. Rachel was an honors student at the time of her disappearance and her favorite school subject was science. She was interested in recycling and nature.
Skemp keeps his phone number listed in case Rachel tries to contact him, but he believes she met with foul play. He held a memorial service for her in 2006. Amy and Vincent moved away from the area sometime after 1996. Rachel's disappearance remains unsolved and no arrests have been made in connection with her case, but her disappearance is being investigated as a homicide.