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Title: Melo, Debra 06/20/00
Description: Massachusetts 30 YO

Ell - June 22, 2006 04:53 PM (GMT)
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Family of missing woman marks a solemn anniversary

WEYMOUTH - Robin Whalley said she almost started crying when she saw the woman walking down Route 18 on Tuesday, the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of her sister-in-law, Debbie Melo.

"She was walking down the street and I swore it was her," Whalley said from the side of the road, where she and her husband Richard, Melo's brother, stood holding signs all day to remind drivers of Melo's disappearance.

Each year, on the anniversary of Melo's June 20, 2000, disappearance, the Whalleys stand on the side of Route 18 in Weymouth, the site where Melo was let out of the car by her husband, Luis Melo, and never seen again.

"We're gong to do this every year until she's found," Robin Whalley said.

After six years of looking into the disappearance, the family has become more hopeful. But even with a new round of DNA testing and the involvement of Plymouth County state police and the FBI, the Whalleys are still without answers.

Richard Whalley said he doesn't expect his sister to come home alive but, as cars whizzed by and honked in recognition of the missing woman, he said that doesn't mean they should stop looking.

"I don't want to live another six years not knowing what happened to her," he said.

While the family has accepted that Melo is probably not alive, Whalley said he has kept some faith.

"You have hope," he said. "You hope that you'd see her again someday, but six years have gone by, and the chances are slim."

That's what made it so hard when the Whalleys saw the woman walking down Route 18 Tuesday.

"We looked at each other and we said, 'Oh my God, is that her?' How could we give up?" Richard Whalley asked.

Despite the fact that he thinks his sister is dead, without concrete proof he said he will never be able to fully accept it.

"We can hope and we can pray, but we need to have closure too," he said.

monkalup - December 14, 2006 06:14 PM (GMT)
Debra Marie Melo

Above: Debra, circa 2000

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: June 20, 2000 from Weymouth, Massachusetts
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: October 17, 1969
Age: 30 years old
Height and Weight: 5'3, 114 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Brown hair, blue eyes. Debra has a rose with the name "Louie" tattooed on her right shoulder. Her nickname is Debbie. Some agencies spell Debra's name "Deborah."
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A white shirt, a blue sundress with white flowers, a diamond ring, and a ring with the name "Debra" on her index finger.

Details of Disappearance

Debra was last seen in Weymouth, Massachusetts between approximately 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. on June 20, 2000. Her husband, Luis Melo, claims they got into an argument while he was driving and she demanded to be let out of the car Route 18, south of the former South Weymouth Naval Air Station. She has never been heard from again. Luis says he drove a couple of miles down the road, then came back about twenty minutes later to the site where he dropped her off, but Debra was gone.
Luis did not report Debra missing for one to three days (accounts differ). Her family says they had a troubled relationship and Debra had gotten a restraining order against him in 1996, stating in court documents that Luis had threatened to harm himself or her or both of them if she tried to leave him. The order was lifted after only two weeks, however. Debra and Luis had been married for fourteen years by 2000, and she was reportedly considering divorce at the time of her disappearance.

Luis failed a lie detector test about Debra's disappearance. Police have not called him a suspect in Debra's case, but they have publicly wondered why he does not take a more active role in looking for her. Luis has not participated in any searches for Debra. Investigators state that his behavior and attitude is not consistent with that of a grieving husband. He has not been charged in connection with her case, however, and police could not find any evidence as to her fate in his car.

Luis maintains his innocence in Debra's disappearance and stated he believed she was still alive. He currently lives with his girlfriend; they have a child together. Luis was convicted of assaulting his girlfriend after Debra's disappearance and was sentenced to probation.

Debra's family states that she was a devoted mother and it would be uncharacteristic for her for willingly abandon her two children. They believe she is deceased. Debra and Luis managed a Dunkin' Donuts restaurant in Braintee, Massachusetts in 2000. Her disappearance is considered suspicious and her case remains unsolved.

Investigating Agency
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Massachusetts State Police

Source Information
The National Center for Missing Adults
The Taunton Gazette
The Enterprise
South Coast Today
The Boston Channel

Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004.

Last updated October 3, 2005; details of disappearance updated.

Charley Project Home

monkalup - December 14, 2006 06:17 PM (GMT)
Missing woman's kin hopes new publicity will spur fresh leads
by Jules Crittenden
Thursday, May 3, 2001

Hope that Debra Melo might be found alive has faded, but her family hopes new publicity on a national missing persons Web site and a ham radio event may produce clues to the Taunton woman's disappearance.

Melo, 31, has been missing since last June, when her husband reported that they had a fight and she got out of the car on Route 18 in Weymouth. Steve DeMoura, Melo's brother-in-law, said Monday the Phoenix-based Nation's Missing Children's Organization & Center for Missing Adults will put Melo's picture and information on cards distributed nationwide and on its Web site,

``Our goal is to find Debra and not to let people forget that she is still missing,'' said DeMoura.

Although he said there is virtually no expectation that she might be alive somewhere, he said, ``We're hoping someone saw something somewhere. From Weymouth to Taunton, someone may have seen something. The family is not going to give up.''

Debra Melo's husband, Luis Melo, waited nearly 24 hours before reporting her missing, and police and Debra Melo's family members have complained that he has stopped cooperating with them. Her family members say that at the time of her disappearance, she wanted out of what had become a troubled marriage. Efforts to reach Luis Melo for comment have been unsuccessful.

Taunton police Chief Raymond L. O'Berg said Debra Melo's disappearance is still considered a missing person's case, but with ``suspicious circumstances.''

The Melo case will be featured Sunday in Warren, when ham radio operators gather for the International Missing Children's Day Ham Radio Special Event Station. The event also will focus on the June 27 disappearance of teen lifeguard Molly Ann Bish of Warren.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

monkalup - December 14, 2006 06:22 PM (GMT)

oldies4mari2004 - June 14, 2007 03:59 AM (GMT)
Mass. Woman's Disappearance Still Unsolved

2:14 AM PDT, June 28, 2005

By DENISE LAVOIE, Associated Press Writer

TAUNTON, Mass. -- A few faded yellow ribbons can still be found near Memorial Park, where Debbie Melo played as a child, and along the highway where she was last seen. And Melo's family still puts up missing posters with her picture, hoping that someone will remember seeing her and report the information to police.

But the family feels no closer to finding her than they did the day she disappeared: June 20, 2000.

"It's heart-wrenching knowing that we don't have anything to go on. We don't have any type of closure, nowhere to go visit when we are thinking of her. All we can do is say a prayer," said Patty DeMoura, Melo's younger sister.

Melo's husband, Luis Melo, has said he last saw his wife when she got out of their car after an argument. He says he left her on the side of Route 18, near the South Weymouth Naval Air Station, and drove away, and when he circled back a short time later she was gone.

As they searched for Debby Melo, her family became more and more suspicious of her husband. The couple had a stormy 14-year marriage, family members said.

Police labeled Melo's disappearance "suspicious," but have never identified Luis Melo as a suspect.

Still, says Weymouth Police Chief James Thomas, "There was an odd set of circumstances."

"First of all, it's difficult to believe that an argument in a car could escalate to such a pitch in such a short time that somebody would have to get out of the car -- that to me is odd -- and to go up the road a mile and then to turn around and have the person not be there, on a major roadway like Route 18 is odd too," Thomas said.

The couple married when they were teenagers, had two children and managed a Dunkin' Donuts in Braintree together.

They fought frequently, DeMoura said. Debbie Melo, who was 30 when she disappeared, had taken out a restraining order against her husband in 1996, but the couple remained together until her disappearance.

Three years after she vanished, Luis Melo pleaded guilty to assault and battery charges for shoving and hitting a girlfriend. A year later, the girlfriend took out a restraining order against him.

Luis Melo has "cut off all contact" between his wife's family and his children, Alyssa, now 18, and Luis Jr., now 15, said DeMoura.

"I've sent them cards, but they've been sent back to me," she said. "I've also lost a niece and nephew, and they were just as close as my children to me."

He hung up when a reporter called Friday seeking comment on the fifth anniversary of his wife's disappearance. In 2002, he told The Patriot Ledger that he did not know where his wife was.

"Life goes on," he said then. "I just want somebody to find her, so everything will be over."

Over the years, Melo's family hired a private detective, conducted numerous searches themselves and put up thousands of posters around southeastern Massachusetts. They've held vigils, fund-raisers and memorial Masses for her, offered a $5,000 reward and put her name and photo on missing-persons Web sites. In June 2001, her stepfather, Joseph Gagnon, was stabbed to death when he got into a fight with a man over Melo's disappearance.

"You think of it the first thing when you wake up in the morning, and you think of it before you go to bed at night," said Steve DeMoura, Debbie Melo's brother-in-law.

monkalup - June 20, 2010 01:44 PM (GMT)
10 years later, questions linger about Debra Melo’s disappearance
Investigators still pursuing 2000 case
File photo.Ten years after she vanished, the disappearance of Debbie Melo of Taunton remains an open case in Bristol and Norfolk counties.

Lisa Bul/The Patriot Ledger.Richard Whalley of Taunton stands on Route 18 in Weymouth holding a poster with a picture of his missing sister Debbie Melo on it trying to keep people looking for her, on the 5th anniversary of her disappearance in 2005. Melo is still missing.
More Photos

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By Lane Lambert
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Jun 18, 2010 @ 07:49 AM
WEYMOUTH — Debra Melo and her husband Luis Melo were in the middle of an argument on the afternoon of June 20, 2000, when she asked him to stop the car and let her out.

Luis Melo says he pulled onto the side of Route 18, near the old South Weymouth Naval Air Station, and watched the 30-year-old wife and mother walk away.

No one has seen her since.

Ten years later, the Taunton woman’s disappearance remains an open case in Bristol and Norfolk counties. The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office is investigating it as a homicide.

But no fresh leads have turned up since Bristol DA Samuel Sutter revived Melo’s case in 2007. With little more than Luis Melo’s account to go on, Sutter is again urging the public to call his office’s tip line at 866-765-8307.

“Any little piece of information can break open a case, even if it’s 10 years old,” Sutter’s spokesman Gregg Miliote said.

Miliote noted that the office has solved nine cold cases since 2007, one of them from 1986.

Norfolk County District Attorney William Keating’s spokesman David Traub said the county’s investigators check all new leads, and share any information with Bristol County and with Taunton and Weymouth police.

The Melos together managed a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise in Braintree. At the time of Debra Melo’s disappearance, Luis Melo told police they were arguing about money and that he let her out of the car and drove off believing she would return home later. He told police that he changed his mind and returned to the spot, but she was nowhere in sight.

Police said Melo did not report his wife missing for 24 hours. Along with extensive air and ground searches in Weymouth, Taunton and other locations, police also searched Melo’s house and car.

Questions about Luis Melo lingered, especially after he failed a lie detector test, but police stopped short of calling him a suspect.

Debra Melo’s mother, Marilyn Gagnon, said the couple’s 14-year marriage had been “rocky.” Debra had filed a restraining order against her husband in 1996, but withdrew it after 14 days.

Luis Melo didn’t join Debra’s family and friends for any of their vigils, Masses and informal searches. He hasn’t made public comments about his missing wife in years, and couldn’t be reached this week by The Patriot Ledger.

Debra Melo’s mother, Marilyn Gagnon, couldn’t be reached this week, either. Melo’s brother, Richard Whalley, died in 2008. He had led an awareness campaign about his sister’s disappearance.

Luis Melo moved on with his life – though not without further incident. In 2003 he was arrested for domestic assault on his then girlfriend, Samira DeOliveira, and was given one year’s probation.

In 2006 he divorced Debra on grounds of abandonment and married DeOliveira.

Lane Lambert may be reached at

monkalup - June 20, 2010 01:45 PM (GMT)

Police seek info in Melo beating story

By ZACH CHURCH Staff Writer 09/30/2005

TAUNTON - Police investigators are trying to corroborate an attack earlier this week on a man whose wife disappeared five years ago under suspicious circumstances.

Luis Melo's told police that five or six men in four cars surrounded and beat him at 5 a.m. Wednesday, said investigators yesterday, who are looking for the public's help in verifying his claim.

Lt. Philip Warish said Melo had burn marks and bruises when he spoke to police Wednesday. Melo's ears had also been cut, Warish said.

Police have not established a motive and are not eyeing any known suspects for the attack, Warish said, and did not know if it is linked to the June 20, 2000, disappearance of Melo's wife, Debbie Melo.

"I don't know how long this assault must have taken," Warish said. "Must have been a minute or two."

Melo, 36, told police that he stopped behind a car at the corner of Williams Street and Gordon M. Owen Riverway on his way to work at a Dunkin' Donuts in Braintree, Warish said.

Three more cars then pulled up behind Melo, trapping him, Melo claimed. The men then jumped out and beat him, he told police.

Melo drove himself to the Dunkin' Donuts at Hart's Four Corner's afterward, where an employee called for an ambulance.

Betsy Perez, a Dunkin' Donuts manager who knows Melo said he told her his attackers threatened, "You're gonna pay" and "Your daughter is next."

There are no homes at the corner in question, but Warish figures someone driving to work must have noticed the five cars lined up at the corner.

Someone from Melo's home called police around 6:30 a.m. Sunday, saying she was scared to go outside, according to a police blotter report. Police gave the woman a ride to Dunkin' Donuts to get a coffee, according to the report.

Melo was the last person to see his wife, Debbie Melo, before she disappeared five years ago, according to police. He told police at the time that he had dropped her on Route 18 in Weymouth and drove off after the two argued.

* Anyone with information on Wednesday's attack should call Warish at (508) 821-1475, ext. 124.

monkalup - June 20, 2010 01:46 PM (GMT)

Family Marks 6th Anniversary Of Woman's Disappearance
Husband Was Last Person To See Debbie Melo

POSTED: 5:13 pm EDT June 20, 2006
UPDATED: 7:01 pm EDT June 20, 2006

WEYMOUTH, Mass. -- Six years ago Tuesday, a young Taunton mother disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

NBC 10's Larry Estepa reported that her family and friends refuse to give up hope that she'll come home someday.

"I just miss her so much," Chris England said.

Loved ones keep up a lonely roadside vigil along Route 18 in Weymouth. They hope against hope, perhaps against reason, that Debbie Melo will show up as suddenly as she disappeared.

"Every year, there's fewer people here," England said.

England owns the nursery not far from where Melo vanished and where her brother and sister-in-law cling to this fading hope.

"Maybe somebody will remember something. Finally, they want to say something," Melo's brother, Richard Whalley, said.

In six years, Melo's husband, Luis, has said very little to anyone, and less to the family.

"Nothing since day one. He hasn't helped look for her," Melo's sister-in-law, Robin Whalley, said.

Luis Melo has never wavered from his story that he and Debbie argued, and he let her out of his car along Route 18. Nobody has seen her since.

"The only thing we have to go on is what he tells us," Robin Whalley said.

Police questioned Luis Melo, but they never charged him with anything. The authorities gave up organized searching a long time ago.

"You'd like to think that she's still around somewhere. I don't know," England said.

Her brother looks for her around every corner.

"As a matter of fact, I was just standing here this morning and a girl came walking over the bridge, and my heart dropped. I thought it was Debra," Richard Whalley said.

If only wishing could make it so.

"No, we're not going to give up. We'll never give up," Whalley said.

monkalup - June 20, 2010 01:47 PM (GMT)
Luis Melo case — Massachusetts

In 1996 in Bristol County, Massachusetts Debbie Melo asked for and received a restraining order against her husband Luis. In an affidavit before the court she wrote that Luis made threats to do bodily harm to himself, her or both. She was afraid of what he might do to her or their daughter.

In 2000 Luis Melo reported to the police that Debbie disappeared after they had a roadside argument. Debbie Melo has never been seen or heard from since. The last person to see her alive was Luis Melo. No report of using credit cards, no phone calls, and no attempts to reach either of her two children. Luis Melo, for good reason, should be more than a person of interest to the criminal justice system.

In 2004 the live-in girlfriend of Luis Melo appeared in a civil court to get a restraining order because she and her daughter were afraid of Luis Melo. She has good reason to be afraid because Melo had beaten her in the past. Court records document that Melo is a dangerous man who should be feared. Earlier, in a Bristol County court, Melo had pled guilty to assaulting his girlfriend.

For that previous assault Luis Melo received no jail time and was placed on probation. Luis Melo is a man that many believe may have murdered his wife. He is a man with a history of violent abusive behavior. And he is a man with no respect for the court system.

Apparently domestic violence awareness month must slip by, year after year, unnoticed by the Bristol County District Attorney and this judge. The Bristol County District Attorney and this particular judge are not alone in their ignorance. Restraining orders or orders of protection rain down on this nation like confetti at a parade.

Is there anyone other than the judge who really thinks a restraining order is going to protect this woman from Melo? Is this really the best that the District Attorney and the judge can do for this woman and her child? After decades of intervention is this as far as we have come?

Ell - December 4, 2014 02:02 AM (GMT)

Wife Still Missing Years After Argument with Husband

Thirty year old Debra Marie Melo was last seen by her husband Luis Melo on June 20, 2000 in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Around the time of 3 to 4 pm that day, Luis Melo claimed that the two had an argument and that she demanded to leave the vehicle which was on route 18 south of the Weymouth Naval Air Station. Luis claimed that he later drove by the same road but she was nowhere to be found. The couple is alleged to have a rocky marriage and at one time she filed a restraining order against Luis. Debra's family insists that that she didn't just wander off. They claim she wouldn't have left behind her two children. For more information about this case please visit The Charley Project Website. If you have any information about this case, please contact the Massachusetts State Police 781-830-4800.

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