It's hard to admit your missing daughter's probably not coming back, that the ones who made her missing will likely never answer for it. But after a while, it's easier than telling yourself otherwise.
"It just wraps my emotions up too much," Rachel Mellon's father, Jeff Skemp, said of his struggles coming to terms with his daughter's disappearance.
"I think what Rachel wants is for us to move on," Skemp said. "I mean, I know she wants justice, but I'm not holding my breath."
Rachel was 13 when she vanished 16 years ago today. The morning the Bolingbrook girl was last seen alive, she stayed home from school with a sore throat and was alone with her unemployed stepfather, Vince Mellon.
The first anyone realized Rachel was not sleeping off her illness in her room was when her mother, Amy Mellon, arrived home from work that evening and went to get her daughter for dinner.
Later, the stepfather told police he last saw Rachel about 2:30 p.m., just before he took the family dog out for a walk. All the while, Vince Mellon's story went, he presumed Rachel was in her room asleep.
No one has ever been charged with harming Rachel. But two days after the fourth anniversary of her disappearance, her mother and stepfather were pulled before a grand jury. The stepfather also was compelled to surrender samples of his blood, saliva and hair as part of what the police called a first-degree murder investigation, one that apparently remains open, although little action has taken place over the ensuing 12 years.
"This is still an open case," Lt. Michael Rompa, the spokesman for the Bolingbrook Police Department, said last week. "All credible leads and information we receive are thoroughly investigated. There have been no significant findings, leads or suspects over the past year."
That does little to boost the hopes of Skemp, who remains convinced that the stepfather the police focused on in January and February 2000 should be considered a suspect in Rachel's disappearance.
"There's all these cases in Chicago where (suspects) end up making false confessions to get away from (the police)," Skemp said. "They never even put any pressure on him."
As far as Vince and Amy Mellon's whereabouts, Skemp said the last he heard they were living in Tennessee. Amy Mellon's listed telephone number in Cleveland, TN, now rings a bank in that state.
Vince Mellon has a warrant for his arrest in Will County in connection with a 2005 drunken driving crash. He pleaded guilty to the charge but failed to comply with the terms of his sentence.
The drunken driving arrest stemmed from a wreck in Romeoville. Vince Mellon was pulling out of the Crazy Rock strip club when he collided with a car driven by Patch movie critic , who was heading home from work.
"I sent him to the hospital and subsequently to jail once when he ran into my car, and I'd do it again in a second," Wilson said of his encounter with Vince Mellon.