Luis and Yvonne now believed they were in a race against time to find Shannon, and decided to take matters into their own hands. They turned to their friends, like Shannon's old high school teacher, Angel Menendez, who within a matter of hours helped raise thousands of dollars.
Posters of Shannon offering a $10,000 reward were plastered all over Atlanta and billboards lined major highways.
The Melendis also tapped in to some of Miami's top celebrities, including Bo Jackson and Andy Garcia, who appeared in public service announcements. And they appeared on national television programs including "America's Most Wanted."
For almost two weeks, there was no sign of Shannon, until April 6, 1994, when an anonymous male caller phoned the Emory University counseling center with a message.
"In that call, which was very brief, he said that he had Shannon and she was OK. And that he would make his demands later and hung up the phone," says DeKalb County prosecutor Mike McDaniel.
The FBI traced the call to a pay phone and found evidence intentionally left behind by the caller that would link him to Shannon. It was wrapped in masking tape.
Wrapped inside the masking tape was a bag, and inside the bag was a ring, which Yvonne Melendi says was Shannon's, given to her by her godmother.
The mysterious phone call and the bizarre discovery of Shannon's blue topaz ring confirmed what the Melendis had believed all along: that their daughter had been taken against her will.
Finally authorities agreed with them.
"That was, I would say, the real turning point," says Yvonne. "It gave us hope that she was still alive."
A 1993 family portrait taken by Luis would prove to be critical to the case since the topaz ring can be seen on Shannon's hand in the photo.
Three weeks after Shannon had disappeared, Luis and Yvonne returned to Miami and were reunited with their younger daughter, Monique. Yvonne says returning home without Shannon was "horrible."
"Her room basically turned into a shrine," remembers Yvonne. "We had candles everywhere. We had prayer vigils in there. It became a crying room. We'd go in there and we'd lay on her bed and we'd cry and we'd pray and we'd curse God."
DeKalb County Police Sergeant Ray Ice was named the lead investigator assigned to Shannon's case and he was determined to make up for lost time.
"It became my responsibility to do an overview of the entire case. Find out what mistakes had been made," says Ice.
One of the more glaring mistakes, according to Ice, was the initial handling of Shannon's car.
"We corrected it quickly, but you know the damage may have been done by then," he says.
DeKalb County prosecutor John Petrey agrees. "The initial treatment of this case as it's just 'College Girls Gone Wild,' it's an MTV show, you know. Shannon's run off to be with her buddies in Cancun or whatever. Giving the car back to the roommates was a huge mistake."
Two weeks after Shannon was kidnapped, investigators finally shifted into high gear. They reconstructed her final hours at the softball park, talking to everyone they could who had been there on the day Shannon had vanished.
Among them was Jerry Chastain, who pitched the very game where Shannon had worked as a score keeper.
"The home plate umpire, he would not pay attention to me while I was pitching. I would throw a pitch and then, mid-stride, he would turn around and look at the scorekeeper behind the fence," says Chastain.
Chastain kept mentioning the umpire, 33-year-old Colvin Hinton, III, also known as "Butch."
"It was like he was obsessed with her," Chastain says. "He went to her between innings, he went to her while I was pitching. He was interested in her more than he was the ballgame."
Sometime during Shannon's lunch break that Saturday afternoon, authorities believe she and softball umpire Butch Hinton crossed paths. At first glance, Hinton seemed like a regular guy. He was married and a father, he owned a home and had a good job, and he even taught Sunday school.
But when investigators took a closer look at Hinton, his claims about his whereabouts that day conflicted with what other people had told them. The FBI asked Hinton about his involvement in Shannon's disappearance and gave him a lie detector test.
"He basically failed it," says Ice. "At the time they didn't have substantial evidence to keep him. He didn't confess. They released him and began following him."
Investigators pressed forward in their search for Shannon, and re-examined evidence, taking a closer look at how Shannon's ring was discovered.
"In this case the best piece of physical evidence that we had that was the most value to me was Shannon's ring in this cloth bag wrapped in tape," says Ice.
The fabric bag that was wrapped inside masking tape turned out to be no ordinary bag. It was a product made for and used only by Delta Air Lines.
At the time of Shannon's disappearance, Butch Hinton worked in the machine shop at the Delta Airlines Technical Operations Center.
"The tape that was wrapped around the bag, we found nine rolls of it in his house," says Sgt. Ice. "And several rolls of that same tape at his workstation at Delta Air Lines. Now we have a direct link to Butch."
Butch Hinton, the softball umpire, was now a suspect in Shannon Melendi's kidnapping. But authorities still didn't have enough evidence to arrest him.