April 18, 1994

This post follows on from April 17, 1994, in describing the last movements of Melissa Hunt (Hallett) before her battered body was found in Burrenjim Dam on April 25, 1994.

After spending the evening of Sunday, April 17 with Matthew Henderson, he says that Melissa leaves after a fight. It is 1am on Monday, April 18 and Melissa walks out the door without saying goodbye – after they fight about the tattoo of Scott on her wrist and the fact she is married.

Later after Melissa’s body is found, Henderson identifies the clothing she is wearing – pink tracksuit pants and a black top – the same clothes she is wearing as she leaves his house that night.

Henderson says she takes her other clothes with her but other witnesses say she had left her other clothes where she was staying, with a friend in Charlestown.

Despite Matthew Henderson telling police Melissa left without saying a word, another witness says Henderson told them that when Melissa left, she is going back to see Scott Hunt at Whitebridge to tell him she is leaving him and going back to live with Henderson.

Later that day, Henderson talks to his neighbour about Melissa leaving, saying they argued about the tattoo and marriage. He seems depressed and upset.

An observation at this point: the movement of Melissa in the days before April 18 shows a tendency to maintain close contact with some girlfriends, to go to where they lived, to be constantly on the move, and as part of this, to change clothes often. Is this a sign she is afraid? Or unwell? When her body is found a week later, she is wearing the same clothes she is wearing when Henderson claims he last saw her. You might be tempted to conclude that whatever happened late at night on the 17th or early on the 18th, it might have been final and fatal for Melissa.

Henderson’s small flat is searched by police, including forensic officers, the day after Melissa’s body was found. There is no evidence of blood or anything implicating Henderson. I briefly visit the flat in 2019 as part of my own inquiries, with thanks to the family living there. The flat is again searched in 2021, long after Henderson has left the Newcastle region – now residing in South Australia. Again, no evidence is discovered, as far as we know.

Despite police believing Henderson is likely the last person to see Melissa alive, a number of other sightings are recorded by police, including on the 18th. Most of these are in the area of Melissa’s Whitebridge home with Scott Hunt. None are deemed reliable by police.

One neighbour sees Melissa feeding her dogs on the front lawn of the Baroonba St home, wearing a dressing gown, on April 18. Another witness sights Melissa in nearby Station St at 9am, Tuesday, April 19. Further similar sightings are reported by these and other witnesses right through to April 22. In some sightings, Melissa is seen with Scott.

He tells police they are all mistaken about the timing and in at least one case, there is clear evidence that the witness confused the week. Apart from this one case, seven different people living in the Whitebridge area say they saw Melissa between April 18 and April 22. The Baroonba St house is searched a day after Henderson’s and again, no evidence is discovered.

All of these sightings are discounted by investigators at the time and so the trail of Melissa’s actual whereabout seems to have run cold. Is she already dead? Did something happen to her as early as 9.15pm on Sunday, April 17, 1994? Was one man involved or several? Or did she walk away at 1am to who knows where?

There is one contact and another sighting yet to discuss that police do consider credible – we’ll address these in subsequent posts.

>> I’ll continue detailing what we know of Melissa’s movements during this time, immediately before her death, in the hope it stirs someone’s memory, or someone’s conscience.  Next up Wednesday, April 20.<<

If you know anything about the murder of Melissa Hunt, my sister, please contact Crime Stoppers or contact me through this blog.

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