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Authorities announce suspect, now deceased, in 1985 Sylvania murder of Patricia Stichler

The Sylvania Police Division announced Michael Mellus, 17 years old at the time of the 1985 murder, as the primary suspect. Mellus died in a car crash in 1989.

SYLVANIA, Ohio — Officials have identified a primary suspect in the 37-year-old cold case murder of Sylvania mother Patricia Stichler, who was stabbed to death in her home.

Michael Mellus, who was a 17-year-old high school student at the time of the 1985 murder, was identified by Sylvania Police Division investigators from DNA at the crime scene.

Mellus died in a single-vehicle car crash four years later in 1989, while stationed in North Carolina with the U.S. Army, which he enlisted in after graduating from high school.

According to a press release, Mellus lived six houses away on the same street as Stichler, who was found stabbed to death in her home on Brinthaven Road in Sylvania on Jan. 2, 1985, two days after hosting a New Year's Eve party there.

The investigators determined Mellus was less than 100 feet from Stichler's home within an hour of the time police received the call on the night of the murder.

Credit: Sylvania Police Division
A picture of Michael Mellus from the 1985 Northview High School yearbook. Mellus is the primary suspect in the murder of mother Patricia Stichler inside her Sylvania home in 1985. Mellus died in 1989 North Carolina in a car crash.

Her three daughters were sleeping in the room next door during the woman's murder. One of the girls, 11 years old at the time, discovered her mother's body on the floor of her bedroom.

Stichler had been stabbed numerous times and it appeared she struggled violently with her attacker, according to the Ohio Attorney General's office. There were no signs of forced entry to any doors at the home, but a bathroom window was found open and window coverings there had been cut with a knife, police said.

But, investigators determined Mellus did not know Stichler or her family and would have had no reason to be inside the victim's home, according to the press release.

The case has remained unsolved for almost four decades.

Sylvania police ask that anyone with further information related to the case or Michael Mellus contact Sgt. Justin Music at the Sylvania Police Division at (419) 885-0467 or by email at 851@sylvaniapolice.com.

In 2010, retiring Sylvania Police Chief Gerald Sobb said he regretted that his department had not been able to get justice in the case, which had no primary suspect at the time, though he said he believed it would eventually be solved. In 2012 the Ohio Attorney General's office included Stichler's murder on a new site designed to solicit tips in long-unsolved cases. 

This is a developing story.

Credit: Kirsten Kelley
Patricia Stichler was 30 years old at the time when she was murdered on January 2, 1985.

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