Today we participated in a media announcement, appealing for people to come forward with information about the murder of our sister, Melissa, more than 26 years ago.
At the same time the NSW Police Minister David Elliott announced the reward for information had been increased to $1 million.
While her death was nearly three decades ago, we live on with the pain of her loss and the despair of not knowing who murdered her, where, when and why.
And some people live on with the answers to those questions. Now is the time to tell what you know.
Here’s my full statement from today’s media conference:
My name is Peter Hallett and 26 years ago someone brutally beat my sister Melissa to death and it is long past time we discovered who did this and so receive justice for Melissa.
We should not just have memories of her beautiful dark eyes, her mischievous, generous laugh, her musical talent, her quick eye for detail, her passion for writing and fierce love for those who were special to her. We should be able to hold her now.
I’m representing my family here today, I’m joined by my wife Judy and son Josiah, but I hold all of my family, my extended family that were impacted by this, in my heart. And we want you to know that Melissa was deeply loved and we have never stopped missing her and desperately wishing that her life had not been cut short.
I’m representing my elderly parents Ron and Jan who are too frail to stand here today but who have carried in their heart and minds the devastation of losing their daughter for nearly three decades.
I’m representing my older sister Jenny who has told me her life was almost entirely taken over by grief for many years after Melissa’s murder and it has taken all her strength to go on.
Melissa’s two children have carried the most horrific toll of all and I don’t pretend to be able to stand here in place of them, that is sacred ground. It is beyond me to explain what it must be like to be left without a mother, before even having a chance to really know her, to not know what happened to her or why and what life would have been like if she was still here. It is more than words can convey.
But I can say that as Melissa’s brother I have barely had a good night sleep in 26 years and when I least expect it, terror or grief or shame or darkness can grip me.
I’ve blamed myself for her death, as we all have to some extent, as we fruitlessly go over any little detail, any conversation, any visit or absence, any correspondence or phone call. If we had said something different, done something different she might still be alive.
But of course that is the lie of despairing grief that victims of crime go through, especially when the person or persons who are actually responsible, who took the actions to kill her, remain unknown.
And yet they are not unknown. You know who they are. You, watching or reading this tonight know enough to help the police, who have reopened this investigation, to find this person or persons and arrest them and bring them to justice.
We don’t hate them, we might even forgive them, but Melissa deserves that her life not be summed up by being found dead and bloated in a dam; or by any mistakes she might have made in her short life; but by being a beautiful girl who was tragically and violently robbed of her life, of her right to know and love her children, to be present as her parents grow old and to become all she had been created to be.
It’s time to tell your secrets. I’m appealing on behalf of all who love Melissa, make these 26 years count by coming forward now with information, to Crimestoppers, to the unsolved homicide team, to myself.
Let Melissa and all who love her finally have this small measure of peace. Thank you.
You can watch the full media conference here: