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Identity of a suspect in cold case brings community some long-awaited answers

Nearly 40 years after Patricia Stichler was murdered, Sylvania residents in her neighborhood still think about it. Now, police have a suspect in the case.

SYLVANIA, Ohio — Nearly 40 years after Patricia Stichler was murdered in the quiet 5000 block of Brinthaven Drive, long-time Sylvania residents in her neighborhood, like Marion Corbett, said they still think about it.

"Locked my doors more over the years, and I've never really forgotten about her, "Corbett said.

Corbett has lived on this street for nearly 55 years and was happy to hear the case had a suspect.

Sylvania police claim Michael Mellus, a 17-year-old high school student who lived just six houses down from Stichler, left DNA in her home. Investigators have been able to place him less than 100 feet from the house around the time of the murder.

 Yet, Corbett has a lot of questions left unanswered.  

"How did he do that and her kids didn't know? Because he was not a big kid, you could see he was a slight build," she said. "Why did he do that? Just why?"

Stichler's daughter, Kirsten Kelley, said she never lost hope that one day they would find out who stole her mother's life, in their home, while she and her sisters slept. She refused to believe the truth wouldn't come out.

Now, they have something.

RELATED: 'It's all worth this day today' | After 37 years of waiting, a murder suspect is named in Sylvania mother's cold case

"I am in a really good place mentally and emotionally with this and my nightmares have dissipated," Kelley said. "This sense of peace has come over me."

Mellus died in a single-vehicle car crash while stationed with the Army in North Carolina in 1989, four years after Stichler was killed.

"At least we now have a face and his blood was in our house, mixed with my mother's blood," she said. "There's absolutely zero reason for that to be going on."

Though she no longer lives in the neighborhood, word about her mother’s case has traveled fast.

"I have been contacted today by almost every single kid that lived on that street," Kelley said. "All of those kids have remained in contact with us all of our lives and just are posting today. The weird part is that nobody knows who he is."

The few long-time residents still living on Brinthaven Drive, like Corbett, said the murder changed the neighborhood. She said everyone was more apt to lock their doors and relive the continual shock that there was a murder in their community. 

The general hope and prayer was that someday they'd all get an answer as to who killed Patricia Stichler. Now, they have some answers.

Stichler's murder is still an open case. If you have seen anything, heard anything or knew Michael Mellus, police are asking for your help.

Contact Sgt. Justin Music with the Sylvania Police Division at 419-885-0467 or email him at 851@sylvaniapolice.com.

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