It was back in 2003 when a 31 year old woman went missing from her Atmore home. This is an investigation deputies say has never gone cold, yet pieces to this puzzle are still missing.
For years now detectives have looked far and wide for Melinda Wall McGhee. Yet after 15 years of searching they're still not close to finding her.
When someone is missing. It's as if time stops.
"The circle is broken. There's a big missing piece," said Melissa Wall Boatright, McGhee's sister.
"This time capsule of her picture is so disheartening sometimes because we've aged. there's no new pictures. why can't we see her as she would be today?" added Melinda Wall McGhee's sister, Amanda McGhee.
For Melinda Wall McGhee's family, their puzzle broke in 2003.
"I've had 15 years of sorrow, insane hurt, pain from this, anger, sadness," said Boatright.
McGhee was born in 1971. She was the 2nd of 4 children.
"Mamma, (pointing at Amanda McGhee), mean baby girl (pointing at Melissa Boatright, and Melinda was in the middle, she was our peacemaker definitely," her sisters said together.
"She was a cheerleader in high school, graduated high school, got married and moved to mississippi, did nursing after that," Boatright added.
They say Melinda was very popular. She was a cheerleader in grade school with the looks and ambition to match.
"She was a LPN for many years and she was going back to get her RN and I believe May of that year, would have completed her RN," explained Amanda McGhee.
Life seemed to be on the "up" for Melinda Wall Mcghee. She was a wife and a mother of 2, who was living her best life until that dark day.
"March 24, 2003. Melinda McGhee drove home from work. She was working at a nursing home in Bay Minette, Alabama. Got off at 7 am. Drove home to the area, bought gas, went to her residence, ended up calling her husband's employment and also spoke with her mother," said Cold Case Investigator Tommy Calhoun.
That was the last time anyone heard from McGhee. Family members assumed she was sleeping, until her husband and young children made a gruesome discovery that afternoon.
"I think Gage was the one to go in first. That was her oldest son. He was the one to go in first and greet mama like he always did," Amanda McGhee said.
"Then he got home about 3:30 a quarter to 4, walks in the house and finds blood in the bedroom. Melinda is not there and she has not been seen since that time," said Calhoun.
The next 24 hours were like a blur for family members and detectives.
"I remember pulling up. People everywhere, news people, police officers, community, guests, family, friends. it was a good 3 hour ride for us and i guess then it really, really, really hit home because our life as we knew it was over," said her sisters.
"Well you interview the discovering person and that was Troy McGhee and he had his two small children with him. So you interview him and you just work from there out. Immediate family members, they were on the scene. Investigators started talking to them and tried to discover her last known whereabouts," explained Calhoun.
Investigators say such a grim scene led them to declare McGhee missing that day. Family members spoke to Fox 10 news a few days after her disappearance.
"I just want you to know she's a real person, we love her, we want her back. if you ever, ever see her please call somebody," said Amanda McGhee in 2003.
For detectives, there were many questions, but not many answers.
"What caused her to be a victim of this crime in her own home. What she did? How she did it? Where she went to church? Where she got her hair done? All the facts you can learn about somebody. Spending habits, what did you spend money on? Any known enemies? You just work from the center out and end up literally, as in this case, interviewing hundreds of people," Calhoun explained.
Days, turned into weeks, weeks turned into months, then months turned into years.
"We've used ground contract and radar. We've dug up old wells, just off leads. Numerous dollars have been spent. Where a lead takes us, we don't leave that rock un-turned, we turn it over and we look under. If we have to dive, we dive," said Captain Greg Forbes, Cold Case Investigator.
Toi: "Any chance, any chance in you guy's minds personally, do you think that she may be still alive?
Calhoun: "We're absolutely convinced that she was killed and there are some things we've done from early on, because that's another thing you hear in a case like this. you have rumors, she made herself disappear, but we have run those type things into the ground with, i think more than a reasonable degree of certainty with the physical evidence."
Although they haven't found a body, Detective Tommy Calhoun and Captain Greg Forbes say this is a murder investigation.
"Who removes a body from the scene of a violent crime like that? Why would he remove it? What's the purpose in taking it? It leaves you to believe that the person was known to the victim, perhaps even close to the victim. In this violent of an encounter, there's going to be transfer of physical evidence. We don't have to wonder, it was. Well if you don't have a body, you don't have that evidence unless there was some evidence left at the house," said Calhoun.
15 years later they're still conducting interviews. Still working for this family, still hoping to find her.
Toi: "Is this a cold case?"
Forbes: "This is not a cold case. We're working it everyday. We actually today in our office, before we did this interview, we interviewed a guy. That's not a cold case."
A circle is now broken for family members, their lives have been changed for the worse. Without a body, they'll have a rough time finding closure.
Amanda McGhee said, "Like her son's graduation, when he graduated. I went out there just to talk to her. He had already been there. He took his invitation and laid it there."
Melissa added, "On an empty grave, because that coward chose to not only murder her that day but take her body."
"She is my sister and i love her and if it was your sister and you knew something. Why won't you help us?"
After all these years, the pain is still as rich for her family as it was on March 24th 2003.
A woman is gone without a trace. 2 children without their mother, siblings without their sister, parents without their daughter, Melinda Wall McGhee is still Missing in Alabama.