Rachel Mellon Skemp was only 13 years old when she disappeared from her family’s Bolingbrook, Illinois home on January 31st, 1996. On that day, Rachel stayed home from school because she had a sore throat. She was kept company by her unemployed stepfather, Vince Mellon. According to Vince, he and Rachel played video games together during the early afternoon before Rachel decided to take a nap. Vince then decided to take their family dog for a walk in subzero temperatures. He left the door unlocked while he was gone. The dog apparently escaped from his leash during the walk, which caused Vince to be gone longer than he intended to be. When he finally did return home, he reportedly did not check on Rachel.
Around 3:15pm, Rachel’s half-sister returned home from school and realized Rachel was not in her room. Around 5pm, Rachel’s mother returned home from work and learned from her daughter that Rachel, who was too sick to go to school that day, wasn’t home. Bolingbrook police were called around 6:00pm, but since Rachel ran away once before the previous summer, they did not begin investigating until the following morning. It was then that the police officers discovered that Rachel’s blanket and pillows were missing from her bed. However, those were the only items missing. Despite the fact that temperatures were far below freezing at the time of Rachel’s disappearance, her winter coat and corresponding winter gear were still inside the house. Police also located Rachel’s diary, which had an entry where she had written about how her step father Vince, the man who had been a parent to her since was a toddler, had kissed her on the mouth and touched her inappropriately. Other than these findings, police did not find any evidence of a crime scene or any information on Rachel’s whereabouts.
Vince has been a long time suspect in Rachel’s disappearance. He had scratches on his body after her disappearance which he blamed on injuries he got while repairing his car. He also has a long record for domestic violence and he has failed lie detector tests in connection with Rachel’s disappearance. Four years after she vanished, in January of 2000, a grand jury convened. Vince repeatedly plead the fifth during his questioning. Ultimately, no indictments were handed down.
Rachel remains missing today. Sometime after 1996, her family left Illinois and moved to Tennessee—which is where they were living when the grand jury began to investigate. Ironically, the police officer who was involved in arranging the grand jury was Drew Peterson, who later went on to be convicted of murder himself. (you can read about his cases here.) There are now other detectives in charge of Rachel’s case. If you have any information about her disappearance/whereabouts, please contact the Bolingbrook police department at (630) 226-8600.