April 20, 1994 – 5 days before Melissa’s body was discovered

As we continue tracing the possible movements of Melissa Hunt (Hallett) in the week before she was found murdered, the focus moves further west to West Wallsend, about 10 km from her last known location at Wallsend, about 15 kms west of Waratah and 17 km north west of Whitebridge.

West Wallsend is just a few kms from where Melissa’s body was found in Burrenjim Dam on April 25. It’s also close to Holmesville where Matthew Henderson grew up – spending time riding in bushland close to Burrenjim Dam. West Wallsend is also where witnesses say they saw Scott Hunt on April 22.

A hairdresser from Kara’s Cuts n Withers St West Wallsend tells police soon after Melissa’s body is discovered that she came into the salon for a haircut on either Wednesday, April 20 or Friday, April 22. She can’t be exactly sure of the date because Melissa walked in without an appointment, paid with cash and left.

However, while she is having her hair cut they talk about Melissa’s family, how her dad is a minister, and she has two children. Later the hairdresser describes Melissa’s tattoos, describes her accurately and says Melissa tells her that she is staying at the cottages at Stockrington for a few days. These cottages are in the old mining area, where Burrenjim Dam is also located, and which are no longer there.

Police canvas West Wallsend shopping area extensively and the cottages at Stockrington but no other sighting is reported.

Police at the time consider this sighting as reliable, no doubt because the autopsy of Melissa reveals many shorter hairs, consistent with clippings from a haircut. As well, when Scott Hunt has the unenviable task of identifying Melissa’s badly beaten body on April 25, his first comment to police is, “the hair is different.” He says she was so badly beaten it was difficult to recognise her and her shorter hair also made recognition harder.

So it seems reasonably certain Melissa had moved on from Wallsend to West Wallsend, getting further away from Scott, Matthew and her friends, but also moving into an areas known well to Matthew.

But perhaps Scott also. A number of people report seeing Scott drinking at the Clyde Inn Hotel in West Wallsend on April 22 – possibly the same day as Melissa’s haircut. While Melissa wasn’t seen with him, one report that seemed credible to police was from a person who knew Scott. This person sees him in the hotel, with a pool cue in his hand, at about 11.30am. A number of other patrons and staff claim to recognise him from that afternoon and evening although some seem unreliable as their timing clashes with a confirmed alibi that places Scott at the Duke of Wellington Hotel in New Lambton.

I have one more sighting to report in my next post – unconfirmed evidence provided recently.

>> 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. <<

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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