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Family fighting to keep killer behind bars on 30th anniversary of Shannon Melendi’s murder

The Miami native and Emory University student was murdered in Atlanta, Georgia on March 26, 1994. Her killer, who was convicted in 2005, is up for parole again next year.
Shannon Melendi
Shannon Melendi

It’s been 30 years since Miami native Shannon Melendi disappeared. 

The Emory University student had been at her part-time job, taking score at a softball game, in Atlanta, Georgia on March 26, 1994.

The umpire at that game — a man Shannon had never met — approached her and asked her to lunch. 

Afterward, the umpire, named Butch Hinton, attacked Shannon. He kidnapped her and later murdered her in his home. 

Shannon’s body has never been found.

It took a decade, but in 2004, Hinton was arrested for Shannon’s murder. Shannon’s father, Luis Melendi, told Dateline what it was like when he heard about the arrest. “Tears just hit my glasses,” he said. 

In 2005, Hinton was found guilty of Shannon’s murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The family thought their nightmare was over. But then they learned that Hinton had the possibility of parole. Over the past two decades, Hinton has been denied parole twice. In 2025 he will again be up for parole.  

The family is determined not to let that happen. So, for the 30th anniversary of Shannon’s murder, they’ve dedicated themselves to raising awareness about Hinton’s parole hearing.  

Last week, on March 19, 2024, they held a commemorative ceremony at Shannon’s high school in Miami. They told the students Shannon’s story and emphasized how they needed help keeping Hinton behind bars so Shannon’s death wouldn’t be in vain.

Luis told Dateline he would continue the fight for his daughter for the rest of his life. “I’m carrying this to the very end. Until this guy is no longer in existence, I will carry this fight,” he said.

The Melendis are hoping to get people to sign a petition. You can learn more about their efforts on the Melendis website.

The full Dateline episode about Shannon is available to watch on Peacock or you can listen to the podcast.