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Shannon Melendi’s father fights to keep killer Butch Hinton in jail

“This will be my last breath,” Luis Melendi said Friday, vowing to stop “the monster” Butch Hinton from getting parole.

ATLANTA — A father’s mission to keep his daughter’s killer in prison continues unabated, years after she was killed and years after her killer was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

11Alive spoke to Luis Melendi Friday night just before NBC aired an episode of Dateline about the case of his daughter, Shannon, a murder that has been one of the most infamous criminal cases in metro Atlanta since. decades.

Shannon Melendi, a sophomore at Emory University, was murdered in 1994.

His killer was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison 11 years later. But he is on parole again in 2025.

RELATED: Man Convicted Of Murdering Emory Student Has Been Denied Parole: ‘Finally We Can Breathe’

It’s heartbreak upon heartbreak for Luis Melendi – always strong, he says, never broken.

“It’s been a long, long battle,” Melendi said, a battle that never ends.

Shannon was just 19 when she disappeared in March 1994 from a part-time job off campus.

Hundreds of volunteers helped her parents find her.

They found his car, with his keys inside.

And soon, the missing person’s case turned into a kidnapping case – police discovered evidence that an acquaintance from Shannon’s part-time job, Butch Hinton, had kidnapped, raped and murdered her.

It took another 11 years, but police and prosecutors were able to bring Hinton to trial and a jury convicted him.

Hinton was sentenced to life in prison and he later confessed.

He did not, however, reveal where he left Shannon’s body. Police believe he had tried to burn it; they were never able to find his remains.

Shannon’s parents, Luis and Yvonne Melendi, turned their pain and outrage into action. Hinton repeatedly asked for parole in Georgia, and they repeatedly protested, and he remained in jail — until now.

“He has a glimmer of hope. He should have no hope at all,” Yvonne told 11Alive in January 2020, the last time Hinton was on parole.

Prosecutor John Petrey told 11Alive in 2020 that the law in that case from so long ago did not allow him to seek life without parole or seek the death penalty.

“Butch Hinton is an extremely dangerous sexual predator – that phrase is too kind when applied to Butch Hinton,” Petrey said. “He’s a monster. He was and is a predator. And he’s still young enough that he can hurt people very well when (or if) he comes out.”

Then, in 2021, Luis lost Yvonne; she died of COVID-related pneumonia.

“Now I have to deal with it almost on my own,” Luis said on Friday, calling Yvonne “my rock, the one I leaned on when the things about Shannon came up. I mean, it’s been going on since 1994.”

Now Hinton, who turns 62 in September, is eligible for parole again in 2025, 20 years after his conviction.

Melendi fights, always.

“It will never end. This will be my last breath. But I will fight to make sure Butch Hinton, the monster that he is, stays in the prison where he belongs. Because he’s going to kill again,” he said.

Always fighting, he says, for justice for Shannon – grieving, but never broken.

Shannon would have been 48 next October.

“I miss the future we were meant to have together as a family, and her with her family,” Luis said. “And I will never see that. It could happen to anyone. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time and trusted someone she was working with.

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