As we've touched on this week with our Metro Unsolved series, families of murder victims whose killers have never been brought to justice live with intense pain that's compounded by a lack of closure. Many of them dedicate their lives to mending that open wound of uncertainty that haunts them daily.
One case that starkly illustrates the constant ache of not knowing is the
murder of 22-year-old Melanie Colon. Colon, a young mother from North Philadelphia, was missing for four days this past May before a passerby discovered her body in Juniata Park. She had been shot six times.
Colon disappeared with an acquaintance, 43-year-old Reynaldo "Chino" Torres. He has never been located. Investigators have not determined a motive or arrested any suspects in connection with Colon's slaying. Her family continues to struggle with questions surrounding exactly what happened in the days leading up to her death – and who to hold responsible.
One person who has been particularly eloquent in memorializing Colon is her younger brother, 18-year-old Ralphiee Colon. He's been maintaining
a Facebook tribute page to his big sister that has over 4,500 likes and walked with a banner in her memory at this year's Puerto Rican Day Parade. Showing exceptional strength in the face of unspeakable tragedy, Ralphiee has been raising awareness since Melanie's death, engaging an entire community in a constant dialogue about coping with personal loss and supporting others in the process. Ralphiee, through his unwavering perseverance, has truly kept the memory and spirit of his sister alive.
Here, Ralphiee explains in his own words how the death of his sister has affected him and his family and shares some thoughts, photos and memories. R.I.P., Melanie Colon.
The fact that I have to wake up every day to know my sister isn't here anymore is the worst feeling in the world. Melanie Colon was more then my sister – she was a mother to me. Melanie was the kind of girl that if she had it, you had it. Melanie had such a good heart. She would always keep her circle tight and she didn't trust a lot of people. Only the people she loved and truly cared for. Her son Joshua Rodriguez means the world to her.
Ralphiee and Joshua.
Life was a little wild growing up. We have so many memories! Before Melanie passed away, we all watched her transform into that young, beautiful woman she became. She was a great mother to her son and always got him anything he needed. He just started school. She would have been so proud and happy if she would have been there with him, but she was in spirit. Our goal right now at the moment is to find who murdered Melanie Colon.
Reynaldo Torres was the last person with Melanie Colon. His whereabouts are still UNKNOWN!
We don't know what to think sometimes. He was the last person with Melanie and for us to just find her dead and him nowhere to be found, what do people expect us to think? If he didn't murder her, he knows who did. We just have to find him.
Our prayers are always with his family. We know that feeling of not knowing where your loved one is. Melanie was missing for four days before we found her dead.
Melanie Colon, 22.
I can't believe so many people are touched about this case. It's so interesting to people, I've been noticing. My sister has touched so many lives.
As soon as they made her case public, we started getting so much love and support from the community and even other cities and states and countries. Her Facebook fan page is a dedication to her life, even though she is not here with us. I can't let anyone forget about Melanie.
This violence in Philadelphia has to come to an end. We all are trying to get somewhere in life, but you can't just go around being cold-hearted and killing people. You're killing a person that has a big family at home waiting for them. How can someone do that?
In the six months that have passed, I have found strength in knowing that my sister Melanie has made a difference in people's lives. My sister was a strong young women growing too know who she was and be there for her son. I have found that while she is gone but not forgotten, that her spirit holds tight wherever I go.
Ralphiee at his sister's burial site.
There isn't a day where my family and friends do not mention or have Melanie's name in their mouth. It's like she never left.
There is a daily laugh and cry in our house, especially when baby Joshua comes home on weekends and screams, 'my Princess!' and blows his mother a kiss to the photo we have hanging on our wall.
I keep asking myself why my sister has touched so many people after her death. I've come to realize that through it all, she was anybody's daughter, anybody's sister and anybody's friend. My sister was not special – she was just as regular as anybody else. She was street smart, she was so tough, she was strong. And yet her fears, as I read her notebooks, were of not being loved, were of not making it and what she needed to do for her son. What young women doesn't worry about that?
A memorial at Melanie's grave.
Melanie know she was loved! She's loved even more now!! We will never forget that beautiful smile, Melanie! I'm doing all this for you, baby! What happens in the dark always comes to the light, like you always told me!
We pray daily that we get some answers. We pray daily that those people that are going through the same thing we are going through find answers as well. We hope that Melanie's story continues to give hope to people and help them learn that life is a gift and we should never take it for granted.
Metro, thank you for this opportunity. That's the one thing I love the most, is talking about Melanie, and you guys hear me out. God bless you.
We love you, #TeamMelanie!! We always thank you for all the love and support you show. You guys are amazing!
Do you have memories of a lost loved one to share? A story that you want to see told? Please email Metro at firstname.lastname@example.org.