Mother Seeks Clues To Girl's Slaying In '93

A few months after her 15-year-old daughter was abducted, strangled and thrown off a bridge, Sharon Lee moved halfway across the country.

She planned to begin the long, painful process of putting her life back together.

But last month, a year and a half after Melissa Lee was slain, Sharon Lee returned to Washington to post dozens of fliers and arrange newspaper ads that promise a $10,000 reward to anyone who has information that helps solve the case.

"I decided for me to get on with my life, I'm going to have to do something about the past," said Lee yesterday from her home in Oneida, Tenn. "Somebody out there knows what happened. At least one person, the person who did it, knows."

Police have interviewed more than 100 people and chased dozens of leads, but still don't know much about what happened, said Detective Gregg Rinta of the Snohomish County sheriff's office.

It was between 9:30 p.m. and midnight on April 13, 1993 when police believe Melissa Lee was abducted from her family's Bothell home at 19805 Filbert Road.

Rinta said the house showed signs of a struggle. He thinks the teen knew her abductor or abductors, but he declined to say why.

The girl's body was found the next day at 3 p.m. in the 3700 block of Mukilteo Boulevard, just inside Everett. She had been strangled, then thrown from a bridge into a gulch 100 feet below, Rinta said.

"It's a case that doesn't make a lot of sense," said Rinta, adding that police know of no motive. "I'm really at a loss as far as where to go."

Sharon Lee described her daughter as "sweet, gorgeous, happy and friendly," a young woman who aspired to be a model, had many friends and enjoyed working with the elderly.

Rinta called Melissa Lee a good kid who had a few minor problems with police and some acquaintances who were gang members.

Police haven't ruled out gang involvement, but Sharon Lee doubts if her daughter's gang friends committed the slaying. Lee said those friends were upset by her death and many attended her funeral.

Sharon Lee, 34, said her other reasons for moving to Tennessee included fear for herself and her two other children, Eric, 19, and Kelli, 13.

"And I just couldn't handle it up there," Lee said. "There were too many reminders."

Among the reminders was seeing the media attention other slayings of teenagers received, while her daughter's case showed up one day, then quickly faded.

"I could never understand that, either," Rinta said. "This was a senseless homicide."

Recently, Sharon Lee's fiance persuaded her to get some money together for the fliers, ads and reward. They came for what was to be a three-week visit, but left after nine days when money ran short.

Lee said her source of the money, a trust fund, is depleted. She said she's also depleted emotionally, having had to endure the deaths and illnesses of several friends and family members in the past year.

"But right now, the most important thing to me is Melissa," Lee said. "We have to find out what happened. It's the one thing that's driving me crazy."

TO REPORT INFORMATION ----------------------------------- Anyone with information about the murder of Melissa Lee may call Det. Gregg Rinta of the Snohomish County sheriff's office, 388-3840, or Detective Greg Costa of Everett police, 259-0407.