A murdered student’s diary contained a name that could prove to be the key to solving her long-held mystery.
In January 1995, two trappers made a grisly discoveryNational Forest in northern Arkansas.
It was the body of Melissa Witt, a 19-year-old student who had last been seen six weeks earlier at a bowling alley in Fort Smith.
Her body was naked and she had been strangled.
Shortly after her disappearance, Melissa’s car was found in an alley along with a pool of blood.
Nevertheless, the trail remained undiscovered and the police were unable to find a suspect.
A private investigator told The US Sun she believes a name found in Melissa’s diary could prove crucial in solving the tragic cold case.
Local author LaDonna Humphrey has spent years investigating the case.
LaDonna has written severalon the case and helped create one Prime about Melissa’s life.
Many believe that Melissa’s killer is convicted murderer Larry Swearingen.
Swearingen, an electrician from Texas, was visitingin Arkansas at the time of Melissa Witt’s disappearance.
LaDonna told The US Sun: “We are looking for a few key suspects, Swearingen is one of them, another was someone Melissa knew and whose name was in her diary.”
“There is a lot of evidence pointing to his possible involvement in the case.”
Swearingen was sentenced to death for his role in another murder, that of Melissa Trotter, under eerily similar circumstances to that of Melissa Witt.
But LaDonna thinks this other name could completely blow the case.
She continued: “I am absolutely confident that if we can prove this suspect’s involvement in the case, we can bring charges against him.”
“I think we’re closer now than ever before and I think that’s exciting.”
“I have spent eight years of my life on this case, which is more than many marriages last!”
She added: “I am determined to achieve justice and I believe there is a high probability that an arrest is imminent.”
LaDonna also explained why Melissa’s case still has a strong impact on Fort Smith three decades later.
“Melissa was part of the community,” she said. “She was everyone’s girl.
“This all-American, beautiful teenager…they want justice for her. That’s pretty obvious in everything we see.”
“People will never be able to let this case go because they want to know what happened.”
“And many of us who grew up in the area know about the Witt case and want it solved.”