WOBURN (CBS) - When news of the three missing women found alive in Cleveland, Ohio broke, Alan Tate started thinking about the families he works with here in New England. "I knew as soon as those families heard the news that it would impact them and that they would be going through a whole range of emotions," Tate said. He is a private investigator, who founded Mission for the Missing, a non-profit created to locate missing children and adults.
That range of emotions is exactly what hit the family of Melanie Melanson, a 14-year-old missing for more than 23 years from Woburn. "When I first saw that on the news when I first woke up, it devastated me," said Melanie's Aunt, Mary Ann Masciulli. We talked to Masciulli, along with two of Melanie's other aunts, Karen Montgomery and Anne Cail not far from where the high school freshman was last seen after attending a party in the woods. "First thing I thought of this morning was Melanie when I heard it on the news," Montgomery said. Before Cail found out about the Cleveland discovery, she had a dream about seeing her niece alive. "I had a dream last night that I was standing with a bunch of people it was mostly family and that someone came and said Melanie was alive," Cail said.
The family believes based on information they've received through the years, that Melanie is not alive. "In my heart I know that Melanie is gone," Masciulli said. No arrests have been made in the case. A forensic dig last year turned up some potential new evidence which is now being tested.
"You have to have hope and you can't give up and even for families whose child may be passed to bring them home and properly bury them gives the family some sense that they're at peace," Tate explained.
That peace is what Masciulli, Montgomery and Cail are hoping to get. "That's what we've been trying to get all along," Montgomery said. "That's what renews the hope that somebody somewhere by the grace of God we're going to find out what happened to Melanie," Masciulli said fighting back tears.
"I want to find her and give her a proper burial," she added. On the news in Ohio: "I'm happy for their family. I'm grateful they're alive. It just rips your heart out all over again," she said.
Masciulli has set up a Facebook page to update Melanie's case. You can also find out more about hers and other missing persons cases in New England at www.missionforthemissing.com.
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