Four years after Bolingbrook seventh-grader Rachel Mellon vanished while she was supposed to be in her bedroom recuperating from an illness, prosecutors pulled her mother and father into a grand jury.
It lasted all day into the night and by the time it was over, Rachel's mother, Amy Mellon, had spent two hours answering questions. The stepfather, Vince Mellon, was in and out so fast it’s hard to imagine he answered any.
The Bolingbrook police had claimed there were “new developments” in Rachel’s disappearance, which was 23 years ago next week. Her mother’s attorney at the time, John Schrock, wasn’t buying it.
“I don’t have a clue what they’re getting at,” Schrock said. Neither did Vince Mellon’s lawyer, Gene Ognibene.
“We’re not aware of anything whatsoever,” Ognibene said.
Whatever the new developments were that put Vince and Amy Mellon in front of a grand jury, they must not have amounted to much. Rachel, who was 13 when she was last seen, remains missing and no one has been charged with doing anything to make her disappear.
The police clearly had their suspicions about her stepfather, as just before he went before the grand jury, they got a search warrant for his blood, saliva and hair, claiming it was "evidence of first-degree murder."
The warrant didn’t lead to anything either. A couple years later, Vince Mellon told how he felt like they were picking on him.
"They went out of their way to get me and we still have no promising leads," he complained. He went on to say, “Everybody's out to get me."
They never did get him though. Not for first-degree murder or anything else having to do with his stepdaughter.
Vince Mellon did have a few brushes with the law over the years though, one of which started with him pulling out of the parking lot of the old Crazy Rock strip club in Romeoville and into the path of Dave Wilson of Joliet, who was heading home after working a second job teaching in Chicago.
“I was going about the speed limit, maybe 40, when all of a sudden this Suzuki-Jeep knockoff slid into my lane,” Wilson said of that night in October 2005. "He came out of the Crazy Rock parking lot and I T-boned him."
Wilson said he was uninjured and he got out to check on the other driver. He said Vince Mellon didn’t look too great.
“He was kind of loaded too,” Wilson said. “I don’t want to say he was catatonic, but he was kind of out of it.”
As it happened, Mellon was kind of loaded. He was charged with DUI and booked into the Will County jail. A year or so later he pleaded guilty.
“It just turned out I did (State’s Attorney) Jimmy Glasgow’s work for him,” Wilson said. “I put Vince Mellon in jail.”
Mellon was only in jail for a month or so before they reduced his bond and he got out. After he pleaded, he was sentenced to a year of conditional discharge, fined and ordered to pay restitution and complete some programs.
Mellon was apparently unable to comply with all of that and prosecutors filed a petition to revoke his conditional discharge. And then he stopped going to court. And then they put out a warrant for his arrest.
That was nearly 11 years ago and Vince Mellon’s still free. He’s thought to be living somewhere in Tennessee, presumably with his wife and maybe his children who are not missing, and another year will pass next week without anyone knowing what happened to Rachel Mellon.
Her stepfather, the man whose hair and body fluid police said were evidence of first-degree murder, and who has a warrant out for his arrest, remains beyond the reach of the law. But maybe this year will be different. Who knows? He might have a few too many and pull into the path of a station wagon on his way out of a strip club parking lot again.
"That’s my claim to fame,” Wilson said. “I put Vince Mellon in the hospital and then in jail.”
• Joe Hosey is the editor of The Herald-News. You can reach him at 815-280-4094, at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JoeHosey.