On September 5, 1979, Melinda Karen Creech was placed in the Blake House, an all-girl juvenile detention facility in Anderson, Indiana. The 13-year-old had been caught stealing motorcycles from a dealership with a teen boy.

Two months later, a detective went to the Blake House to talk with Melinda about the theft, but she was no longer at the facility. According to a police report at the time, the teenage girl ran away, which she had done before, but did not specify if it was from the juvenile facility or her family’s home after being released.

Melinda had lived in Anderson with her mother, Shirley Creech, and her four siblings. In 1994, Shirley told her children that a decomposed body found in New Jersey had been identified as Melinda’s.

Shirley died in 2003 after struggling with dementia for many years. Her children, skeptical of their sister’s death, scoured through their mother’s belongings and found a letter stating Melinda’s dental records had not matched the body in New Jersey. They do not know why their mother would have lied to them, but they have said she was an abusive parent.

Melinda’s brother, Darryl Creech, began searching for his sister after finding the letter. He posted ads on Missing Loved Ones’ bulletin boards, hoping Melinda was also looking for her family. He soon joined the Doe Network and looked through thousands of Jane Doe files to no avail. By 2004, he had contacted the authorities and the case was reopened.

Investigators spoke with Melinda’s friends, including the boy she was arrested with. He had been sent to a Fort Wayne facility and had not spoken to her since. Melinda’s dental records and X-rays were entered into the database along with DNA from several of her family members. Her Social Security number has been inactive since 1979.

The Bronnenberg Children’s Home, which the Blake House belonged to, closed in the 1980s. It was demolished, and a new juvenile facility was built.

Melinda Creech has been missing for 44 years. If alive, she is now 57 years old.

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