Fresh clues 27 years after murder

 

Police have resumed the search for clues in a decades old cold case that has left detectives stumped.

In December, the state government offered a $1 million reward for information in a desperate attempt to solve the "horrific" murder of Melissa Hunt, whose body was found dumped in a dam.

Officers found her body floating near the wall of the weir in Burrenjim Dam in Bluegum Creek, west of Newcastle, on Anzac Day in 1994.

A post mortem examination revealed the Hunter Valley woman, 22, had died from severe head injuries before she was tossed in the dam with rocks in her clothing.

Strike Force Impey was formed to investigate her death but 27 years on the case continues to baffle police.

No one has been arrested for Ms Hunt's brutal murder but the $1m award has brought detectives closer to cracking the cold case that has haunted the Hunter area for decades.

Melissa Hunt with her parents in 1986. Picture: Supplied.
Melissa Hunt with her parents in 1986. Picture: Supplied.

"Following the $1 million reward announcement in December last year, police received information relating to the investigation and have subsequently returned to the state's Hunter Region to conduct additional searches today," NSW Police said in a statement on Tuesday.

Police divers and homicide squad detectives are today returning to the area to continue inquiries.

The case us now under reinvestigation by detectives attached to Strike Force Circulo.

Toward the end of 2020 detectives had been reviewing initial evidence and were conducting further forensic testing on items of interest, as well as probing possible leads into contacts who might have been living outside of NSW.

At the time Ms Hunt's brother Peter Hallett described his sister as "deeply loved".

Detectives will return to the area to continue searching for clues. Picture: NSW Police
Detectives will return to the area to continue searching for clues. Picture: NSW Police

"We should not just have memories of Melissa's beautiful dark eyes, her mischievous laugh, musical talent, eye for detail, passion for writing and fierce love for her family and two children - we should all be able to hold her now," he said.

"After 26 years of despairing grief, we are hoping that someone will come forward and help police identify those responsible for her death.

"Melissa was robbed of her life and of her right to know and love her children, and as a family we cannot rest until justice is served."

Police minister David Elliott said Ms Hunt's family and community would never forget the tragic circumstances surrounding her death.

Melissa Hunt died from severe head injuries.
Melissa Hunt died from severe head injuries.

He said solving the crime would go some way in delivering justice for Melissa's family.

"The community will not, and should not, forget the tragic circumstances surrounding Melissa's disappearance almost three decades ago," he said. "I urge anyone with even the seemingly smallest piece of information to come forward."

Detective superintendent Danny Doherty will address the media later on Tuesday morning with more information.

Originally published as Fresh clues 27 years after murder