Old pair of pantyhose not belonging to Melissa ... from another victim? I'm hoping they were preserved for testing.
Melissa Jane Letain unsolved February 1987 homicide. Letain was last seen leaving work at a popular West Edmonton Mall hair salon where she worked as a hair stylist on Feb. 13, 1987. She was carrying Valentine�s Day gifts for her boyfriend. It is believed someone abducted her from the walkway leading to her apartment, which was near WEM. Her body was found on Feb. 14, 1987 west of Edmonton under the Genesse Bridge on the ice of the North Saskatchewan River. She was spotted by a 14-year-old boy and his friends from the Saint John's School of Alberta. An autopsy revealed she died of asphyxiation, ligature strangulation. The killer used a hangman's noose made of 7 coils from looks like standard yellow nylon rope. Items of Melissa's never recovered was a CN Trucking key chain (a clear rectangular acrylic key chain) with a single key, a woman's gold tone watch with a rectangular face, a blue leather or leather looking woman's wallet and a green clutch purse with a gold clasp. Edmonton Sun/QMI Agency
It was a cold winter night in 1987 when Melissa Jane Letain left work, carrying a rose, card and pennant in a plastic bag for a romantic evening with her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day.
She left work at Champs Elysee hair salon in West Edmonton Mall, walking home around 9 p.m., headed for the apartment she shared with her boyfriend at 17744 81 Ave.
The 24-year-old hair stylist took her normal route home along the cement walkway between houses in the area of 87 Avenue and 177 Street, unaware that a predator was stalking her movements.
Lurking in the shadows was a killer, who grabbed Letain and dragged her to a waiting vehicle, leaving the Valentine’s gifts scattered in the snow.
A woman walking in the same area later told police she became aware of the assault when she heard a groan or gurgling sound. She turned and saw a man clutching a woman and hushing her to be quiet before she was dragged away. It was the last time Letain would ever be seen alive.
Her co-workers knew something was wrong when the reliable Letain failed to show up for her 10 a.m. shift the next day. They called her boyfriend to see if they could find her, but he didn’t know where she was.
That same day, Letain’s body was found 75 km southwest of Edmonton under the Genesee Bridge on the ice of the North Saskatchewan River. She had been physically and sexually assaulted, then dumped over the bridge.
The killer used a yellow nylon rope with a hangman’s noose of seven coils to strangle his victim. A pair of old pantyhose that didn’t belong to Letain were found beside her body.
Craig Gordon was 14 years old when he attended the all boys private school near the Genesee bridge. The school hosted snow shoe races every year around Valentine’s Day. The races began early in the morning and crossed over the Genesee bridge.
On the morning of Feb. 14, 1987, Gordon set out with his team of six classmates for the 25 km trek that would take all day to complete. He lost one of his gloves when he was goofing around on the bridge railing, but he couldn’t see where it fell due to the morning darkness.
Later that day, Gordon and his group crossed back over the bridge on their way back to school. He looked over the railing to see if he could spot his glove. It was lying in the middle of the ice, along with the body of a young woman.
“From first glance you could tell that something was seriously wrong with the situation. The way she looked was disturbing,” said Gordon, noting there was a yellow rope and some other items in garbage bags that were strewn around the body. A pair of pantyhose was tied to the opposite end of the rope.
The rest of the team went back to the school, but Gordon, with the adult chaperone, headed down below the bridge to try and reach the lifeless woman. The pair attempted to crawl on the ice on their hands and knees, but the ice was too soft. There was no way to reach the body other than to call police. Gordon had no doubt the girl was already dead.
“It was sickly disturbing,” said Gordon, who spent the week with his family in Edmonton following the discovery of Letain. “I was a wreck. I slept with my sister the whole time when I was home. I had dreams and mind games just playing with my head that the guy saw us or the guy knew it was us that saw the body. I was fortunate to have a father who could sit down with me and say as much as it’s affecting you, imagine how it’s affecting the family of Melissa.”
A few Letain’s belongings were never recovered, including a CN trucking key chain with a single key, a woman’s watch, a blue leather or leather looking woman’s wallet and a green clutch purse with a gold clasp.
Her death sent a chill through the city that winter. In less than seven weeks between February and March, three local women disappeared or were found slain, including Letain. But police said none of the cases were connected.
Cpl. Rick Jané with the RCMP historical homicide unit is now the lead investigator on the case. He’s still waiting for the missing link that could lead police to Letain’s killer.
“Some unsolved are solved due to advances in forensic science and the RCMP continues to evaluate potential forensic testing as new technology emerges,” said Jané. “Unsolved homicides are often solved when a member of the public who has information about the murder makes the decision to come forward to police and provide that information.”firstname.lastname@example.org