Feb 22 2023
Melissa Wolfenbarger : Norma and Tina Patton | Part 1
April 29th, 1999. A skull is found in a trash bag outside Action Glass in Atlanta, Georgia. Soon after, in different trash bags, various other body parts are found. The remains are identified as the remains of Melissa Wolfenbarger, a 21 year old married mother of two who is reported missing several months prior. In a remarkable twist, Melissa’s remains are verified only after her Father is arrested in connection to an unrelated murder.
On this episode of Zone 7, Sheryl McCollum, a Crime Scene Investigator, is joined by Norma Patton, Melissa's mother, and Tina Patton, Melissa's sister, to discuss Melissa's life and the complex investigation to identify her remains. The conversation explores the details surrounding Melissa's case and sheds light on the challenges faced by law enforcement in identifying the victim and the killer.
[0:00] Welcome back to Zone 7 with Crime Scene Investigator, Sheryl McCollum. [1:00] The introduction to the case - Sheryl describes an intricate and complex case. Various [7:30] Norma, who is Melissa's mother, and Tina, who is Melissa's sister, are introduced[10:00] Tina was approached by Melissa's father at her workplace and asked about Melissa's whereabouts, which made her realize the seriousness of the situation[12:30] Despite marital problems, would Melissa ever leave her two children?[13:30] Melissa’s Father, Carl Patton is arrested for 5 murders that occurred in 1973. Norma helped Carl dispose of the bodies[16:00] The unknown skull is identified… as Melissa Walfenberger. Mother of two small children, dead at 21 years old[17:00] A primary suspect? Melissa’s husband, Christopher Wolfenbarger[21:30] How the death of Carl's daughter altered his perspective on the murders he committed[24:00] Melissa did not have a history of causing problems, but it is believed that her husband played a role in her becoming entangled in trouble.[26:00] Going to the location of where Melissa’s skull was found; her husband’s workplace.[29:00] “She told me ‘my husband is in jail for murder and I was on probation cuz I helped him dispose of bodies.’ Now, I don't know about y'all, but that was an unusual start of a conversation for me.”[34:00] As evidence accumulates, a case against Melissa's husband starts to take shape. The circumstantial evidence, coupled with his behavior after Melissa's disappearance, points to him as a potential suspect.[37:00] “Melissa didn't deserve what she got. She did not deserve, you know, however she died.”[37:30] “Thank you Sheryl, and I certainly appreciate everything that you've done cuz we wouldn't [...] have gotten this far without you. You had just as much to do with all of this and getting, getting us to the right people that could actually do something.”[39:00] One of the striking aspects of this case, which even Sheryl has not encountered before, is that a killer has become a crime victim. Carl Patton, Melissa's father, still writes to Sheryl from prison.[40:00] Next week on the show, we will be joined by Karen Greer, a renowned television personality in Atlanta.Thanks for listening to another episode! If you’re loving the show and want to help grow the show, please head over to Itunes and leave a rating and review! How to Leave an Apple Podcast Review: First, Open the podcast app on your iPhone, Mac, or iPad. Then, hit the “Search” tab at the bottom right-hand corner of the page and search for Zone 7. Select the podcast, scroll down to find the subheading “Ratings & Reviews”. and select “Write a Review.” Next, select the number of stars you’d like to leave. Please choose 5 stars! Using the text box which says “Title,” write a title for your review. Then in the text box, write the review itself. The review can be up to 300 words long, but doesn’t need to be much more than: “Love the show! Thanks!” or Once you’re done select “Send” in the upper right-hand corner.
Sheryl “Mac” McCollum is an Emmy Award winning CSI, a writer for CrimeOnLine, Forensic and Crime Scene Expert for Crime Stories with Nancy Grace, and a CSI for a metro Atlanta Police Department. She is the co-author of the textbook., Cold Case: Pathways to Justice. Sheryl is also the founder and director of the Cold Case Investigative Research Institute, a collaboration between universities and colleges that brings researchers, practitioners, students and the criminal justice community together to advance techniques in solving cold cases and assist families and law enforcement with solvability factors for unsolved homicides, missing persons, and kidnapping cases.
You can connect and learn more about Sheryl’s work by visiting the CCIRI website https://coldcasecrimes.org
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @ColdCaseTipsFacebook: @sheryl.mccollumSee omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.