The Disappearance of Rachel Mellon Skemp and an Obvious Suspect

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Bolingbrook, Illinois, is a southwest suburb of Chicago. Today the city has a population of about 74,000. But in 1996, there were about 22,000 fewer residents.  

Rachel Mellon Skemp, 13, lived in Bolingbrook with her mother, Amy Mellon, stepfather, Vincent Mellon, and half-siblings, Jason and Ashley Mellon.

Rachel’s mother is originally from the Philippines. She met and married Jeff Skemp in the early 1980s and gave birth to Rachel on October 1, 1982. The marriage ended when Rachel was three years old. Shortly after, Amy married Mellon. Skemp relocated to Dallas, Texas.  

Rachel was a seventh grader and honors student at Ward Middle School. She played the guitar and liked Alanis Morrisette and science. She and her family resided at 612 Melissa Drive.

RACHEL DISAPPEARS

January 31, 1996, was a bitterly cold winter’s day with a steady temperature of 0 ℉ and west winds at 14 mph. Rachel stayed home from school due to a sore throat. 

Around 11 a.m., Rachel spoke with her paternal grandmother, who lived in Dallas. The conversation seemed normal, and Rachel did not sound distressed. Her grandmother asked if her stepfather was there, and she said yes and that she had to get off the phone. 

Rachel’s siblings arrived home from school at 3:15 p.m. Ashley, then 6, noticed Rachel’s absence but did not say anything to her father.

Amy Mellon returned home around 5 or 5:30 p.m. She noticed Rachel was missing and called the Bolingbrook Police Department an hour later.

INVESTIGATION

Rachel’s disappearance allegedly occurred between 2:30 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. 

Mellon claimed he and Rachel played video games then Rachel took a nap in her bedroom. He took their German Shepherd for a walk at 2:30 p.m. and left the door unlocked. Mellon said the dog slipped off its leash and chased a rabbit. Mellon returned home about 30 minutes later. A neighbor and a businessman found the dog and took the pup home. Mellon told the police he did not check on Rachel when he returned, a strange thing not to do when a child is sick. 

It’s unknown whether any witnesses saw Mellon with the dog. 

Rachel Mellon Skemp: photo of her stepfather Vincent Mellon speaking with the media.
Vincent Mellon shortly after Rachel’s disappearance.

Police noticed scratches on Mellon’s body, which he claimed came from working on his car. Jason and Ashley said their father was in the garage when they returned from school. However, police never searched the garage or the vehicle Mellon allegedly repaired, according to Skemp.

Authorities extensively searched for Rachel in the area but found no signs of the teen or clues about her whereabouts.

Like in most cases when a teenager disappears, investigators initially believed Rachel ran away, even though the area experienced arctic temperatures. Rachel’s coat, clothes, money, and Walkman remained at home. The only items missing from the house were Rachel’s blankets and pillows.

The previous spring, Rachel wrote a note and left home. She was gone for 12 hours. Rachel feared being blamed for a household item her younger siblings broke. She had slept outside a friend’s home before calling her step-grandparents, who took her home. 

Authorities also investigated a theory that relatives had taken Rachel out of state. Investigators searched Skemp’s home, his parents’ Dallas home, and his sister’s in Mississippi but did not find the missing teen. They also extensively investigated whether Amy Mellon’s family had taken the teen to the Philippines but found nothing. 

In March 2000, investigators found Rachel’s diary and offered no explanation why it took four years. In an entry on August 7, 1995, Rachel wrote that her stepfather had kissed and touched her inappropriately, warning her against predators and saying that it should not be done until she was older.

Mellon has a criminal history that includes domestic violence. 

Per Nancy Grace’s show (transcript) in 2011: “In August of 2006, he was charged with three counts of domestic battery, one count of battery, pled guilty, served 25 days in jail, domestic battery charge in 2003, a DUI in 2005. Amy alleged in 1993 that her husband hit her, pushed her down the stairs in front of the children, and verbally abused their oldest daughter, Rachel.”

On January 29, 2000, Bolingbrook police reopened Rachel’s case and questioned Mellon for nine hours at the station. According to the Southwestern Star, they obtained a search warrant requiring him to give blood, saliva, and body hair.

Mellon and Rachel’s mother subsequently appeared before a Will County grand jury. Amy Mellon claimed that someone abducted her daughter, and others knew of Rachel’s whereabouts. 

Rachel Mellon Skemp: photo of Vincent Mellon, and her mother, Amy Mellon in 1996

Rachel’s father also testified. The Mellons hurriedly left the courthouse and refused to speak with reporters afterward. 

The grand jury did not indict Mellon or Rachel’s mother. Police have never charged Mellon with Rachel’s likely murder, but he remains the prime suspect. He and Amy Mellon relocated to Tennessee sometime after the grand jury. 

Mellon returned to the Chicagoland area. In 2017, he pulled out of the Crazy Rock strip club in Romeoville and hit another vehicle. Police arrested him for drunk driving. He is now 56. As far as I can tell, Amy Mellon still lives in Tennessee. 

THEORIES in RACHEL’S DISAPPEARANCE

The leading theory in Rachel’s disappearance is that Mellon killed her and disposed of her body elsewhere. He may have let the dog loose to corroborate his story and never left the house for a walk. 

Another possible theory is that Mellon allowed someone inside the home who kidnapped Rachel for sexual purposes, took her out of the house, and later killed her. Birds of a feather flock together, so it’s likely that Mellon, obviously a pedophile freak, knew others like him. However, I think the first theory is accurate.

Then, there is Amy Mellon’s theory that a stranger abducted Rachel. But that stranger would have to know that Rachel was alone after Mellon left. 

With Rachel’s blankets and pillows being missing, too, it’s likely that a crime occurred inside the home. I believe her kidnapper sexually assaulted her inside the house and then took the missing items to destroy them because they contained evidence. 

Rachel’s home had an attached garage, so it would have been easy to carry her body to the garage and put it into a vehicle. 

JEFF SKEMP

Rachel Mellon Skemp: Chicago Tribune photo of her father, Jeff Skemp, in January 1997
Photo taken in January 1997

Amy’s father had no contact with Rachel’s mother for about 3 ½ years when their daughter vanished. He relocated to his hometown, Maywood, afterward. When the grand jury convened, he told local reporters that the Bolingbrook Police Department had not discussed his daughter’s case with him. But he was optimistic there would be an arrest. 

The last time he saw Rachel was during the summer of 1995 when she visited him in Dallas. She told her father she would like to live in Dallas.

Skemp did everything he could to find his daughter and appeared in numerous media interviews. On the other hand, Amy Mellon defended her husband at press conferences and has remained silent since Rachel vanished. Both have consistently refused interviews with the media. 

AFTERMATH

I could not find Mellon or Rachel’s mother on social media. I did find Rachel’s siblings and Mellon’s sister.

Jason lives in Austin, Texas. Ashley is married and lives in Bolingbrook. Mellon’s sister, Dawn Mellon Schuch, must have adopted or raised them because Ashley’s husband refers to Dawn, who has breast cancer, as “mother-in-law” per the shirt he is wearing in a cover photo on Dawn’s FB. 

Why didn’t their parents raise them? What does Mellon’s family know about Rachel? Regardless, Jason and Ashley appear to have a close-knit relationship with the Mellons.

SIDENOTE: I do not understand why agencies list Rachel as Mellon Skemp. Rachel was not a Mellon. Her father is Jeff SKEMP; therefore, she is Rachel SKEMP. Mellon might have helped raise her, but he was not her father, nor did he adopt her, that I can see. Jeff was still a part of her life. I hesitantly included both names, regardless.  

WEIRD FACT 

In early 2008, infamous convicted wife killer Drew Walter Peterson made several media appearances with different news outlets throughout the Chicago area. Peterson’s fourth and much younger wife, Stacy Ann Peterson, 23, disappeared a few months earlier on October 28, 2007. Her disappearance made national headlines. She has never been found.

After Stacy vanished, authorities began investigating Peterson. Peterson’s third wife, Kathleen Savio, was found dead in her bathtub in 2004. He was ultimately convicted of Kathleen’s murder.

One of his 2008 interviews was with the Chicago Sun-Times.

Peterson worked as a police sergeant for the Bolingbrook PD for 30 years and worked on Rachel’s case. When reporter Joe Hosey asked him about it, he refused to comment, only acknowledging that he had been one of the investigators.

When Rachel vanished, Peterson and Kathleen were still married, and they lived at 392 Pheasant Chase Drive, about 6 miles west of Rachel’s home.

Mellon and Peterson are two peas in a pod.

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True Crime Diva

True Crime Diva

I've blogged true crime since 2010, happily taking up only a tiny corner of the internet. I'm not here for attention; I'm here to tell you their stories.

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