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Colorado family still searching for answers 35 years after teen’s murder

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Michael Riedell is still holding out hope that his little sister's murder will one day be solved.

Her school friends remember Melissa "Missy" Riedell of Colorado Springs as a genuine and magnetic girl who just wanted to be liked.

She transferred to a few different schools, just trying to fit in. Her brother, Michael, said she fell in with the wrong crowd when he went to college.

"She didn't look like she was 15 years old. She looked like she was you know, 20 or something, and so she had older people, an older crowd, had an older boyfriend," Michael said.

On March 7th, 1986, just days before Melissa's 16th birthday, her mother, Diana, remembers calling her daughter on the phone around 2:00 p.m. She was sunbathing on her mom's apartment's balcony on an unseasonably warm spring day in a red tube top. She went inside to take a shower, and when she got out, her killer was waiting for her.

Melissa was strangled with her tube top and stabbed with a paring knife. By the time her mother got home at 3 p.m., Melissa had died and her killer had fled.

"It's kind of gory, and those are the kinds of details that just like stick in your head like, 'Oh my god, that's how it happened?'" Michael said.

Michael remembers being at football practice at the University of Colorado in Boulder at the time. He found a note on his car asking him to call his uncle. He knew something bad had happened.

He rushed back to the Springs, and after finding out, he didn't return to school in Boulder.

Despite a handful of leads early on in the investigation, Melissa's killer was never caught. It tore her family apart. Michael said their father was never the same after her death, and he lost touch with him for years.

As the years went on, Michael worried that his sister's story might be forgotten.

"I used to see all that JonBenet Ramsey stuff. And I go, 'Why hasn't anybody ever talked about my sister's cold case or the unsolved murder?'" Michael said.

To honor her memory, he named his firstborn daughter after his sister. But he lost her in 2013.

Michael said he now has two guardian angels.

"Somebody is looking out for me, it's a good feeling. That, that part of it is, I mean, I think that keeps it keeps me sane, makes me have a healthier outlook at it, to deal with it," Michael said.

Still, 35 years later, the pain of Melissa's loss has yet to fade.

"I wonder what it'd be like to be 55 years old and I have a 52-year-old sister that with some kids, maybe my kids would have some cousins or I think about those kinds of things," Michael said, adding that he wonders what kind of relationship they would have now. He wonders if they'd spend holidays together.

Michael hopes the community will keep his sister's story alive.

"It feels good to know that someone is thinking about it, and noticing it, and you know, kind of honoring the memory of my sister," Michael said.

Colorado Springs Police would not speak to us about this case, but if you have any information about who killed Melissa Riedell, please contact CSPD.

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Sydnee Scofield


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