(FOX 25 / MyFoxBoston.com) – In Woburn, the mystery surrounding the death of Melanie Melanson has been plaguing authorities for 23 years.
Melanson was days away from her fifteenth birthday when she vanished in the woods in Woburn; however, her family refuses to give up hope.
"We want to find Melanie, we want to find Melanie. And we will carry on, for as long as we live," a family member told FOX 25's Bob Ward.
Melanson had just started her freshman year at Woburn High School, and in an attempt to fit in at her new school, attended a party in the woods during the weekend of October 27, 1989.
Michael Garrigan, a private investigator, has been trying solve the mystery surrounding her disappearance since 1990.
"I can't sleep without doing everything I can to find this child. She deserves it, her family deserves it," Garrigan said.
Investigators have unconfirmed reports that Melanson went off into the woods with one of the other partygoers as the party wound down; however, it is unclear in what direction and how far the two reportedly traversed.
Over the years, Garrigan has spoken to most of the people at the party. Some said they heard yelling and screaming which is when the party began to dissipate.
Witnesses claim they saw her walk into the woods, but never saw her walk out.
The day following Melanson's disappearance, her family went into the woods and even talked to people who saw her; however, no one could produce any viable leads.
By Saturday evening, there was no sign of Melanson, and by Sunday morning, her family knew something was wrong.
Massachusetts State Police recently scoured the woods, but came up empty.
A team of private investigators and volunteers continue to search as well, focusing on a different corner of the vast woods.
One of the people last seen with Melanson, according to the Garrigan's tip, was seen walking out of the woods covered in dirt and carrying a shovel.
Garrigan had soil samples analyzed. The sample tested positive for human decomposition.
Cadaver sniffing dogs joined the search and picked up on the scent along a bank in the woods; however, a dig turned up nothing.
The Melanson team is focusing on a new site in Stoneham working on the unsettling possibility that Melanson's killer reburied her somewhere else.
If Melanson were still alive, she would have turned 38-year-old on Nov. 1.
Melanson's mother and father are gone, but the pain still runs deep for her family.
Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone issued a statement to FOX 25 saying, "We continue to investigate what happened to Melanie the night she disappeared, and expect to hold those responsible fully accountable. We urge anyone with information on Melanie's disappearance to come forward and speak with authorities. We will not stop working on this case until we have found Melanie and her family can honor her memory with the proper burial that she deserves."
Anyone with information regarding the case is asked to contact the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office at 781-897-6600.
A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the discovery of Melanson's body.
Contact the special tip line set up by the private investigators at 866-637-4907.
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