WEST MICHIGAN (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – State police say more than half of all Michigan murders never get solved.
Newschannel 3’s I-Team is taking a fresh look at the 1993 murder of a teenage girl from West Michigan and digging into her possible connection with an alleged serial killer.
For almost a quarter of a century a small town has wondered what happened to fifteen-year-old Melissa Simmons.
Much of Scottville in Mason County looks like it did back in 1993, store fronts surrounded by farm land, a little more than 1,000 people live there.
Melissa Simmons was one of them, we spoke with her father Albert Simmons.
“She got good school marks and she goes to the school dances, hanging with some of those school friends,” said Albert.
One night in 1993, Melissa was supposed to be meeting up with one of her friends. Albert says he was out of town, but insists his daughter had a curfew.
“Yes I told her to be in the home by 9, 10, 11, and be careful of some of the people she was running around with,” said Albert.
Investigators say Melissa left her home, but she never made it to her friend’s home.
A search was soon underway, but ultimately her parents’ worst fears would come true. A little more than a week later police discovered the body of Melissa Simmons near a river, six miles from her home. Because the body had been in the elements for so long they had to identify her by the jewelry she was wearing.
Investigators determined that she had been murdered.
Dozens have been interviewed since then, friends and relatives, even her father Albert, who says he passed a lie detector test.
Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole says it is still an open investigation and seems to rule out any of Melissa’s friends as suspects.
“I would have thought if it was a classmate something would’ve leaked out and it would have made its way back to us,” said Sheriff Cole.
The I-Team has since learned that investigators are looking into alleged serial killer Jeffrey Willis, who is currently facing multiple murder convictions in Muskegon County.
Willis, it turns out, lived near Scottville at the time.
So far, no evidence points directly to Willis, but investigators are not ruling him out, nor are they going to stop pursuing any leads for other suspects.
Anyone with information on the death of Melissa Simmons is encouraged to contact the Mason County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators say they’re confident that as time goes by, some might be encouraged to speak out and bring them one step closer to finding Melissa’s killer.