Melody Wolf's car was found abandoned with a flat tire Sunday, Oct. 22, 1989, on Sixth Avenue less than a mile from home. Preliminary investigation suggested she locked the doors and walked away under her own power.
Wolf was last seen Oct. 20, 1989, about 10:30 p.m. at her home in San Manuel, which is east of Oracle in southeastern Pinal County.
Wolf left for work early Oct. 21, a rainy Saturday morning, taking a coat, jacket, purse and lunch to her job in the pump house at Magma Mine.
Wolf filed for divorce from her husband of nine years about a week earlier and was about to complete a 90-day probation period at the mine, according to investigators.
She had qualified for, and would soon start, an electrician's apprenticeship at the mine, a job that would grant her more money, a regular schedule and more time with her two children, then ages 3 and 8, investigators said.
But Wolf never made it to work that morning, leaving everything but her keys in the car, including credit cards, personal identification, her coat, jacket, lunch and bank books needed to access the nearly $10,000 in her account. She has not been heard from since, and her body has not been found.
The investigation was soon classified as a homicide. But in August 1991, almost two years after Wolf's disappearance, investigators made their last activity entry in the case file.
In October 2005, the Pinal County sheriff's volunteer cold-case squad began reinvestigating the case. A month later, investigators had developed enough new information by re-examining evidence, re-interviewing old leads and uncovering new ones, to execute two search warrants at San Manuel-area homes.
Steve Carter, a retired detective volunteering with the Pinal County sheriff's cold-case team.
"The body of the victim has never been found," Carter said. "There's just no rhyme or reason for what she (Wolf) left behind and at that point in her life. She was on the brink of success of everything she was attempting to accomplish. With that much success, after that much effort, it's just not believable that anything else but a homicide could have occurred."
Carter said he believes forensic analysis of evidence gathered in November 2005 will provide crucial information and eliminate at least one of several suspects in Wolf's murder. Also, a previously unexamined bathrobe belonging to Wolf allowed investigators to develop a valid DNA sample, entering her for the first time in the FBI's Combined DNA Index System - a national database for identifying found bodies.
How you can help: Contact the Pinal County sheriff's cold-case squad at 1-(520)-866-5147. Tips can also be given anonymously by calling Silent Witness at 1-800-343-TIPS.