Live To Tell: The Year We Disappeared
The maximum-security Lee Correctional Institution near Bishopville, S.C., is seen Sept. 7, 1999. (AP Photo/The State)
And then he saw me sitting there. And he wrote, Don't leave me like this.
He didn't want to be on a respirator or be an invalid like that and if the choice came I needed to let him go. I needed to let him die. I said, "You can't leave me here. You can't leave me with these three kids. I can't be left alone. You have to stay. You have to come back. We'll make it."
CYLIN BUSBY: He couldn't speak, he couldn't breathe, he couldn't eat, he couldn't even drink water. I mean, he couldn't do anything because they had wired shut what was left of his face.
Once I saw him, I thought, "Wow, they really meant to kill him." And I remember going to bed some nights and I would just lay in bed and think, "My dad? Everybody likes my dad. Who could wanna kill my dad?"
My father knew the instant that he was shot who was trying to kill him. And he was able to communicate that to the officers who were on the scene.
RICK SMITH: When I first saw him, he was shaking, shaking like a -- a dog and he was holding the towels up to his face and I asked him, "Who did this, John?"
CYLIN: And he got out a pen and a notebook that he always carried with him and he wrote: not an accident. Mel Reine.
POLLY: John did not see who shot him. But he knew exactly who would want him dead.
RICK SMITH: Melvin Reine was in the trash-hauling business.
POLLY: He had contracts all over Cape Cod and it was very lucrative.
RICK SMITH: He was a convicted arsonist. He had a reputation of getting even with individuals by sneaking in the night and burning properties. His favorite saying was "I smell smoke."
CYLIN: "I smell smoke." Which meant, you know -- without directly threatening -- it meant "there's going to be a fire in your future. Your house, your car, whatever. I'm going to burn something of yours."
Melvin Reine was also suspected of murder. He was suspected of killing three people and in two of those cases the bodies have never been recovered. Melvin Reine was married to a woman named Wanda Medeiros Reine and in 1971, she went missing. He claims that he dropped her off at the bus station and she was never seen again.
About a year later, a teenage boy in Falmouth, named Jeff Flanagan, went missing. He was dating a 17-year-old girl who had been babysitting for the Reine family who Melvin was also interested in.
RICK SMITH: Jeff Flanagan was found shot to death. His body was recovered in a cranberry bog directly across the street from Melvin Reine's home.
CYLIN: And then, a former employee of Melvin Reine's, a 17-year-old boy named Paul Alwardt, was set to testify against Melvin in a grand jury arson investigation. The police promised that he would be protected. They escorted him to the Martha's Vineyard Ferry where he had some family and stay there until the trial. He got on the ferry. He didn't get off.
RICK SMITH: Melvin Reine basically walked free on all of those accounts I think, because people were afraid to prosecute him. And I'm talking about policemen afraid of him because they had families, and they'd go to bed at night and you don't know if he's gonna burn the house down with your kids in the house.
POLLY: I knew that the police chief's car had burned in his yard and everybody assumed that it was, you know, Melvin but nobody could prove it.
CYLIN: I think Melvin Reine considered himself untouchable and that extended to his immediate family. So if the police tried to give a ticket to anyone in his family he would march into the police station and have the ticket torn up and have it erased from the log book.
My dad was either brave enough to take on Melvin Reine or he was foolhardy enough to take him on. If you broke the law, he didn't care who you were, who you were connected to, you were going to get a ticket, you were going to go to court. So he definitely had run-ins with them.
My dad was conducting traffic at a road block at a fatal accident and Melvin Reine's brother, John Reine was there in his semi and instead of waiting for the scene to be cleared he just decided to drive straight through the accident scene and he actually hit my father with his truck. He went to his house and arrested him and charged him with assault and battery with a deadly weapon.
RICK SMITH: And just prior to that court hearing, John Busby was shot. I thought instantly that Melvin Reine had shot him. And that we were gonna start after Melvin.
CYLIN: I think there were a lot of cops on the force who wanted to go straight to Reine's house and just drag him out. But there were a lot of other people, people who were in positions of power who were really too scared to -- to do anything about it.
RICK SMITH: I would challenge anyone to go to any police department, and ask the question, "If one of their officers was shot in the line of duty, what would they do?" And I can tell ya the response will be they're not gonna stop investigating that crime until an arrest is made.
This did not happen in the town of Falmouth when John Busby was shot.
CYLIN: [In] the police log from that night, you know the local paper does the log of accidents -- fight in progress, disorderly group, noisy house. At the hour of my dad's shooting there was nothing. They didn't put it in. They took it out of the police log. I mean, they've got everything else in here: "dog barking, two drunks near Russell and Falmouth Heights." Every single teeny thing in town is here and for some reason the police log doesn't state, for that night, that a police officer was shot.
RICK SMITH: To my knowledge, the Falmouth Police Department never interviewed Melvin Reine regarding the John Busby shooting.
POLLY: I've often wondered just exactly how this little guy could get away with the stuff that he got away with without even being questioned.
RICK SMITH: It was clear to a lot of us that there was something behind the scenes that was much more powerful than Melvin Reine. Melvin Reine had something on someone. Whether he was paying people in envelopes, or whether he had pictures from some sort of sexual act, he had something on somebody. He clearly had so much control that the police didn't go after him.
Nobody was going to do anything about a crime involving Melvin Reine.
KELLIE COLLIER-DRISCOLL: My uncle John did not want to die. My Uncle John wanted to live and live to take care of what happened to him. Their biggest mistake was they didn't kill him. That was their biggest mistake.
- The War in Chicago
- Unraveling the lies of Jodi Arias
- Murder at Sea?
- Preview: "48 Hours" double feature
- Over the Edge
- "48 Hours" Program Schedule
- Dirty Little Secrets
- Suicide or murder? The death of the preacher's wife
- Dirty little secrets revealed in preacher's murder trial
- Muscle and Mayhem
- The real story behind Miami's murderous Sun Gym gang
- Power and Passion
- The Writing on the Wall
- Murder at Sea? The disappearance of George Smith
- The mind of a killer: Unraveling the lies of Jodi Arias
- My Dad's Killer