Melissa Wolfenbarger Murder: How Did She Die? Who Killed Her?

Image Credit: NBC News

As the title suggests, Investigation Discovery’s ‘Still a Mystery’ is a series that delves into those harrowing offenses that continue to have a myriad of unanswered questions swirling around them. This true-crime production comprises interviews with all those closely involved, along with old news records and social media updates, to showcase just how complex a cold case can be. Thus, its season 3 episode 5, entitled ‘Depths of Depravity,’ examining the homicide of Melissa Wolfenbarger, is no different. So now, if you wish to know the details about the same, we’ve got you covered.

How Did Melissa Wolfenbarger Die?

Born on September 9, 1977, Melissa Patton Wolfenbarger grew up outside Atlanta, Georgia, alongside her caring parents and her 7-years elder sister Tina Patton. She’d always been bubbly, kind, and trusting, something that her family claims didn’t change even after she tied the knot with her high school sweetheart and relocated to the city. In fact, by the time she was 21, she was the proud mother of two children and enjoyed being a family woman, only for that to change in the winter of 1998. After all, that’s when Melissa abruptly disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again.

As per reports, the last time Melissa’s family spoke to her was on a call on November 26, 1998, – Thanksgiving – where they discussed the upcoming holidays, how they’d celebrate, and presents. However, Christmas came and went, but there was no word from the young woman’s side, let alone an appearance for either her parents or her sister, causing them to worry. Hence, they traveled to see her in January, only for neighbors to tell them that the Wolfenbargers had cleaned out and moved in the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but they didn’t know exactly where.

Melissa’s family grew even more concerned when she didn’t get in touch with them on her mother’s birthday in late February, so following months of waiting and searching on their own, in January 2000, the latter filed a missing person’s report. By that time, though, her then-unidentified body had already been found — decapitated, dismembered, and packed into a few black trash bags. On April 29, 1999, only a severed head was located on Avon Avenue near Hartford Avenue, and on June 3, officials recovered mutilated limbs in a wooded area nearby the first site.

According to officials, these remains (first found roughly five months after Melissa was last seen alive) were carefully cut up with a saw, transported, and disposed of, yet a torso has never been uncovered. What’s worse is that a DNA test wasn’t immediately done when the Waffle House server’s mother had initially notified officials of her vanishing in early 2000, which means Melissa’s body remained unidentified until 2003. That also implies that a few crucial pieces of evidence were probably lost over time.

Who Killed Melissa Wolfenbarger?

Melissa Wolfenbarger’s DNA only came into the system and yielded a hit when her father, Carl Millard Patton Jr., was arrested in 2003. He was not charged in connection to this case, though; he was indicted for the “Flint River Murders” — three homicides that transpired in 1977. Carl was later convicted and sentenced for the deaths of Fred Wyatt, Liddie Matthews Evans, and Joe Cleveland, which gave Melissa’s case some traction. With that said, investigators have cleared Carl in his daughter’s matter.

Image Credit: NBC News

Therefore, Christopher Wolfenberger, Melissa’s husband, seems to be the only person of interest. Not only did he never report his wife missing, but the area where her remains were abandoned was also close to where he worked back in the late 1990s. When interrogated about it, he maintained that he believed his wife left him on her own, which is why, when fired, he moved out of their home with their kids and started living with relatives.

Nevertheless, it’s essential to note Christopher has an “extensive criminal history with a history of family violence.” He has never denied his past, but he insists that he didn’t have a hand in his wife’s disappearance or murder. No arrests have ever been made due to a lack of solid evidence. Thus, the investigations into Melissa Wolfenbarger’s slaying are still ongoing.

Read More: Where Are Melissa Wolfenbarger’s Children Now?