DNA technology helps solve 1985 Sylvania murder case
SYLVANIA, Ohio (WTVG) - Police have identified a killer in a decades-old Sylvania murder case through forensic genealogy technology.
Officials say they’ve identified Michael Mellus as a suspect in the death of 30-year-old Patricia Stichler who was murdered in her Sylvania home nearly 40 years ago.
Police said forensic genealogy helped them crack the case via consumer DNA networks.
Michael Mellus was a 17-year old high school student at the time of the murder in 1985. Investigators learned he lived on the same street as the victim at the time of the murder. His residence was across the street and just six houses away.
Investigators said they were able to place Mellus less than 100 feet from the victim’s home within an hour of the time the police received the call on the night of the murder.
Michael Mellus joined the U.S. Army after graduating from high school and died in a single vehicle car accident in 1989 while stationed in North Carolina.
Stichler’s three daughters were sleeping down the hall the night of the murder. They vowed not to stop until they got answers about their mother’s killer.
13abc featured the cold case in an early edition of Case Files last year. Stichler’s daughter, Kirsten Kelley, told 13abc in September she was working with a team of investigators to utilize the latest DNA technology.
“My family is left to pick up the broken pieces of 37 years,” Kelley said last year. “Almost 37 years of not knowing anything, really. We know very little.”
Police said Mellus attacked Stichler while she was asleep, slashing her throat and killing her. Experts say Stichler put up a fight.
“I think she was being watched or stalked or somebody had a personal vendetta against her,” said Lucas County Coroner Dr. Diane Barnett, who specializes in cold cases.
Barnett said there were numerous stab wounds to her hands, arms, and abdomen.
Sylvania City Police Chief Rich Schnoor said it was a violent crime scene.
“There was blood spatter in at least two different rooms. Several wounds. Blood on the bed and on the carpets,” Schnoor said.
He said he made the case a priority when he became chief because there have been so few murders in the city.
While the family of Pati Stichler finally know who is responsible, some questions will always remain.
“Things like, how’d you get in our house? Did you see us? Why didn’t you kill us? Did you walk past our bedrooms? Why did you kill our mother? Why did you leave her there? Help us understand the unknowns,” Kelley said. “Help her children end their suffering because it’s not fair to any of us.”
If any one has any further information related to this case or Michael Mellus, the Sylvania Police asks those to contact Sgt. Justin Music at the Sylvania Police Division at (419)885-0467 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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