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Mystery, Pelion mother missing while family waits, worries, and wonders

Pelion, SC (Paul Kirby) – Every week, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department gets literally dozens of reports of people that are missing in their jurisdiction. In most of those cases, the missing person eventually turns up and the story behind their disappearance is totally innocent. A misunderstanding, a late night out, too much to drink, sometimes they just want to get away for a few days. In those instances, there’s usually a happy ending; maybe some hurt feelings, a few harsh words, but usually happy endings, nevertheless.

This doesn’t seem to be the case with Melanie Price Martin. Melanie is a young mother from the Pelion area of the county that has not been heard from or seen in person since Sunday morning. Melanie has a husband, children, family, and friends and all of them are worried that something is very wrong. They say she’s not the type to just disappear for no reason; this is very out of character for her.

On Sunday, family members say that Melanie left her home to pick up her husband and children at his mother’s. The family had gone two ways Saturday night. Grover, Melanie’s husband, and their kids had stayed with his mom to watch the Palmetto Bowl; football was something Melanie really cared nothing about. Melanie went home to enjoy some quiet time alone, maybe take a bath or pamper herself a bit. Sunday morning, Melanie called her husband to say she was on the way to get him and the kids, but then, she never showed up!

When they notified the sheriff’s department, a deputy wrote the report and a certain amount of importance was attached to the case because it was so out of character for Melanie. It was quickly bumped up to the Major Crimes unit as is standard procedure. Then, the video surfaced.

At a convenience store somewhere in the Midlands, Melanie used her husband’s charge card. The investigators from the sheriff’s department pulled the video from that store.. It shows Melanie calming walking into the store alone. Within a few minutes, a young man that looks to be in his 30’s, follows her in. Investigators say they believe the two were together. The man has short hair and a Carhart jacket. He looks like the thousands of blue collar guys from Lexington County. The man doesn’t seem to menace Melanie. He’s not holding her, he never acts in any manner that would suggest he’s forcing her to be with him. The two buy a few items and leave in what looks like Grover’s car, the one Melanie was driving when she disappeared.

Melanie’s husband says that he can’t believe she was willingly with the young man. Grover seems to be a reasonable, realistic man. “If she wanted to leave, so be it,” he said during an interview. “I just want to know my wife isn’t hurt, that she’s safe. I just can’t believe she’d just run off without at least speaking to the kids.”

Grover says that he’s talked with the young man on Melanie’s phone several times. Once, he demanded Grover send money by wire to another state. Grover says he has very little money on hand and Melanie knows that. It wouldn’t make sense for them to demand money if they were working together; Melanie would know Grover didn’t have it to pay. The family, like many of us, live paycheck to paycheck.

At one point, the young man tells Melanie’s husband she just gave him a ride and then he messed up. He hints that he’s abducted her. He seems sorry, almost apologetic. Several other texts and messages are just confusing. At some points the young man seems so sorry, the next message, he’s demanding money;money that seems like a ransom.

At one point, he tells Grover that Melanie’s okay, she’s in good health, and asks Grover to tell the children not to worry. At other times, he talks like he’s holding her hostage. It’s all very confusing, and it certainly has Grover and the family worried.

Grover has shown the text and played the message for investigators. They're confused too. They say that they have no indication that Melanie’s in immediate danger, but is she with the man of her own free will, or has she been abducted against her will? Is he somehow threatening her, the kids, her family?

Grover says that his family was happy. They weren’t fighting and he had no indication she had been seeing someone else or cheating on him. She didn’t seem angry or ready to leave. Besides, according to Grover, Melanie would never have left her children behind. Although Melanie had her faults and personal struggles, just like everyone else, she was a good wife and a wonderful mom, not someone who would just run off on a whim according to her husband.

Her loved ones say that the last time she was seen on Sunday, she was driving Grover’s silver 2016 Hyundai Elantra. The car’s windows are tinted. Since leaving to get her family, she’s been silent. The video is the only indication that she’s all right, not injured or hurt. The young man has been doing all the talking when they communicate with Grover, if at all.

Grover, the children, Melanie’s family, and her friends are all very worried. They see her home phone charger was left in the house and that says abducted to them; why would she leave that? Everywhere they look, they see little things out of place, all indications she left, but intended to return home later with Grover and the kids.

Now, the sheriff’s investigators are turning to the public to help solve the mystery. Maybe someone knows something, recognizes the young man, or heard Melanie say or do something that would help to solve the case. If anyone has any information to help bring Melanie home safely, please contact the Lexington County Sheriff's Dept. at (803) 785-8230. Even the smallest clue, the most forgettable phrase, may help solve this mystery and bring Melanie home unharmed.

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