SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – No one’s really sure how Melissa Griggs made her way to Utah.
But in 1995, her family learned she had been murdered. It was two days before Thanksgiving when they got a call from Salt Lake City police.
“We got a call and learned they had found her, that she was dead,” said Griggs’ niece Jennifer Ross said. “We really were unaware of why she came to Salt Lake City.”
Most of the Griggs’ family is from Illinois. The 33-year old was estranged from the family.
“She was kind of the odd man out, the black sheep,” Ross said. “She was always pushed aside because she was a problem.”
According to Salt Lake City police, in 1995, a man looked out his window and saw a suspicious car in front of his home. But he went back to sleep. Later that morning he went outside and found a woman’s body near the car.
At the time, Salt Lake City police said the woman appeared to be a transient. She was later identified as Melissa “Missy” Griggs.”
Ross said she put up a struggle before being strangled. She said police still have no leads for an arrest.
1995 court records show that she moved from place to place and within three weeks. She was even listed as a transient. Griggs was arrested for shoplifting, traffic violations, and prostitution.
“She kind of fell into drugs, prostitution and unfortunately that lifestyle kept her away from us,” said Ross.
A month after her body was discovered there was another woman murdered. Krystal Beslanowitch, a known prostitute, was found murdered in the Provo River. At first, police thought there might have been a connection.
“When they apprehended (suspect) the DNA did not match,” said Ross.
For nearly 25-years, Griggs’s murder remained unsolved. Ross said detectives questioned at least two men but still have no leads.
“They’re locked into a scenario that she went out one night, picked up a random person and this person decided to kill her,” said Ross. “But I feel like they’re looking into that theory and it is closing avenues of possibilities because it could be someone that she knew.”
Equally troubling for Ross is her aunt’s remains are still with the state medical examiner. She said she is working with the agency to get her remains returned to Illinois.
“It’s kind of a testament as to the way she was always treated and the way she ended up,” said Ross.
From the outset, Griggs life was a struggle according to her niece. She said Griggs became pregnant at 13-years old and moved to Chicago to have the baby. The child was given up for adoption.
“When she gave birth to the baby she was kind of dumped on the steps of her elderly grandmother,” said Ross.
And one day, that adopted son came into the picture. Griggs’ unsolved murder will continue Friday.
If you know something about her murder, Salt Lake City police would like that information. Contact them through their website.
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