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New Search In Woburn Cold Case Finds 'Points Of Interest'

STONEHAM (CBS)- Volunteer search crews say there were "points of interest" noted by dogs searching for Melanie Melanson Saturday. Further investigation is needed to confirm that a human body is, or was, at the site they searched.

Melanson, 14, has been missing since 1989 after partying in the woods along the Woburn-Stoneham line with friends.

Investigators have long suspected two men who were with her that night are responsible for her disappearance. New tips brought officials to the Middlesex Fells Reservation over the weekend.

"One of them had critical information about having seen them [the suspects] over here after her disappearance. That told us we needed to get some dogs over here and start going through the woods," said Private Detective Mike Garrigan.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Kim Tunnicliffe reports


Garrigan has worked on the case pro-bono almost since the beginning. He and a non-profit group, Mission for the Missing, organized the weekend search of volunteers. Trained and certified canines came from across New England to assist. Most were with Connecticut Canine Search and Rescue, a group that travels the country on their own dime helping families.

The search was slow moving because of the rocky terrain the dogs encountered. Heat and humidity also slowed the teams down and required the dogs to rest more than anticipated. Nevertheless, they managed to cover most of the 40 acres they were targeting at the north end of the reservation off Fallon Road.

Dozens of family members showed up to make lunch for the volunteers. Melanie's parents passed away several years ago, but her aunts, uncles and cousins have taken up the cause.

"We are so grateful for these people out here doing this voluntary work, on their own nickel, their own dime. God bless them all. They're wonderful," said Melanie's uncle, Frank Masciulli.

Melanie's family describes the missing teen as beautiful, kind and thoughtful. She often took care of her siblings. Now they want to take care of her, even if criminal charges are never filed in the case.

"It's not even about finding out who is responsible or who was involved. That's not even what it's about at this point," Melanson's cousin Carl Lawson said Saturday. "We just want to give her a proper burial. That's what she deserves. She doesn't deserve to be left out in the woods like this."

Garrigan says the private detectives have worked to help Woburn Police and supplement their work when resources may not have been available. The family hosted a fundraiser to pay for an upcoming dig for Melanie's remains. Garrigan believes it will be the first dig in New England where a public police force works in partnership with a private group. That dig will take place on August 17th in the Woburn woods where Melanie was last seen.

Anyone with information in this case should get in touch with Woburn Police or call Mike Garrigan at (781)937-6306.

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