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Cold Case: missing Montana woman’s belongings found, family searching for answers

MTN News talked with Melissa's sister Sharelle Mendenhall
Melissa Arnold
Posted at 9:14 AM, Jul 17, 2022

Melissa Arnold was reported missing in Missoula in February of 2018 - but some of her belongings were found in Sanders County in June 2022.

MTN News talked with Melissa's sister Sharelle Mendenhall, who says finding Melissa's belongings is heartbreaking, but the family is still looking for her – looking for answers.

“It was just devastating. Life stopped,” Sharelle said of her sister's disappearance.

Arnold was 37 years old when she disappeared and years later, her family hasn’t given up hope. “And now we get a call like, 'Hey, we found some of her belongings,' after four and a half years, like the case was cold,” Mendenhall said.

She told MTN News their goal now is to find closure: “That was my prayer, at the beginning of this year, was answers.”

“I do know that the Missoula Police Department investigated this case very thoroughly back in 2018 and then when additional leads or tips came in those were also investigated,” Mendenhall recalled. “When those personal belongings were discovered, a detective from MPD went out to that location and collected the items.”

According to the Charley Project:

Arnold was last seen at the Poverello Center, a homeless shelter in Missoula, Montana, during the daytime on February 19, 2018. Her father reported her missing after several weeks passed without his hearing from her. In June 2022, Arnold's wallet, identification, pants and knife (were found) in the vicinity of Dolan Flats and the Clark Fork River Lodge near St. Regis, Montana.
Melissa Arnold

Missoula Police Department spokeswoman Lydia Arnold says the items will be sent to the Montana State Crime Lab for forensic testing.

“Any time somebody has a missing relative, we want to express our condolences that has got to be very challenging, and we understand that has got to be very challenging when you have somebody missing who's a loved one to you.”

Mendenhall and some of Melissa’s other family members organized a search this weekend with the help of more than 40 volunteers.

“Overwhelming support and love of just, 'Hey, you guys are going through hell, let me try and help,'” Mendenhall said.


Melissa Arnold reported missing in 2018