Orlando police announce missing person tip line

Police hope to generate new tips on open missing-person cases.
Melanie Drury yearns for the day when she’ll be able to bring her missing sister home.

It’s been almost 16 years since anyone has heard from Melisa Brady Sloan — a pretty, 23-year-old newlywed who disappeared in Orlando in May 1994. Her husband, Gulf War veteran John Sloan, was the last person to see her alive.

Melisa Sloan’s unsolved disappearance is one of Orlando Police Department’s 16 open, missing-person cases that date back as far as 1982. Half of the missing people are thought to be dead, or foul play is suspected, but police said investigators can’t close the case until it’s solved.

On Wednesday, Orlando police announced its new Missing Persons Tip Line — a 24-hour phone line dedicated solely to receiving tips in cases like Sloan’s.

“Every family needs closure, but closure is not the primary motive for the work that we do,” said Chief Val Demings, who was flanked by investigators and officers. “The driving force behind the work that we do is the victim.”

The announcement came a day after missing 11-year-old Winter Springs girl Nadia Bloom was found, four days after wandering away from home and into the woods. Orlando police did not investigate her case.

But it also came just days after detectives revealed that they had no further leads in the case of missing Orlando woman Jennifer Kesse. The 24-year-old woman disappeared from her condo near the Mall at Millenia in January 2006.

Until just a few weeks ago, a detective worked full time on the Kesse case. Demings met with Kesse’s parents and told them there were no more viable leads.

Homicide detectives Andre Boren, Patrick Schneider and Joel Wright on Wednesday highlighted the department’s 16 open cases. They start with that of Gwendelyn K. Goode, who was reported missing in February 1982 and represents the department’s oldest missing-person case. The 39-year-old woman was a heavy drinker and may have walked away from her life to become a transient, police said.

Investigators believe she is dead.

Another case involves 80-year-old Rayfield Crume, who suffered from the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. He never showed up to meet his wife at a store in June 2004. His truck was later found abandoned and stuck in the mud near Fort Myers at the edge of a swamp.

Searches turned up nothing, but he is believed to be dead, Boren said.

Investigators think the Missing Person Tip Line will generate more leads and help close some cases. Detectives urge anyone with information about missing people to call the tip line at 407-246-2916.

For Drury, the tip line renews her hope that her sister’s body will be found.

Detectives said they think Sloan was murdered and her body dumped, likely somewhere near her apartment on Kirkman Road in west Orlando. Search crews have combed the woods on several occasions in recent years, but nothing has turned up.