Melvin “Mel” Wiley was the Hinckley Township Police Chief in 1985.
Mel served in the Army, where he worked in intelligence. He was described by many as a quiet, easygoing, humourous, and kind man who loved his cats, but he was also known to be slightly isolated. He was married for 17 years with no children, but got a divorce in 1984. At the time of his disappearance, Mel was in the process of writing a mystery novel about a homicide in Pennsylvania. Mel loved San Francisco and he was known to stop at K&K Donuts at 7:30 am every morning for a cup of coffee and a donut. He loved trains and had a model railroad collection that he proudly displayed in his office. Mel also loved music; he collected records–of classical and jazz music, but he particularly favored big band sounds such as Jimmy Dorsey. Mel enjoyed taping his own records and adding his own commentary, similar to a disc jockey.
“He was quiet and easygoing. He stuck to himself, although he was personable. He was a meticulous writer and very proud of his short stories, poems and detective stories.” - Detective James R. Bigam, Medina Police Department.
Mel vanished on July 27, 1985.
Mel was last seen when he went on a date with his girlfriend in Hinckley Township, OH. He has not been seen or heard from since, though strange details later unfold that lead investigators to question whether he vanished on purpose.
Mel’s car was found three days later, on July 30, 1985, at the Cleveland Lakefront State Park on Lake Erie. Inside of his car, authorities found a shirt, belt, shoes and socks, along with his wallet which held $15 in cash, his credit cards, police ID badge, suntan lotion, and a towel. During the search that followed, authorities were never able to find any other signs of Mel.
The theory that he went swimming and drowned was quickly brought up in the investigation.
It has been reported that Mel had told a friend he was going to be going swimming that day, which aligns with the location that his car was found and some of the items that were found in his car. However, Mel had a skin condition which required that he stay out of the sun. He often wore long-sleeved shirts, no matter the weather, to protect his skin. Due to this, it seems unlikely that Mel would choose to go swimming on a warm, sunny July day.
A note left investigators with even more questions; and a possible conclusion.
In September of 1985, authorities found a note about Greyhound bus departure times that Mel had written and left in a uniform prior to his disappearance. Though the note didn’t list any locations for the buses, another interesting note led investigators in a similar direction.
“Apparently, Chief Wiley wrote the letter to a friend, stating that he was leaving the area and saying that he would be 500 miles away by the time the letter reached the person.” - Detective James R. Bigam, Medina Police Department.
A typewriter ribbon found in his office stated the following, leading investigators to the conclusion that he had disappeared on his own accord:
“By the time you receive this, I will, in a sense, have gone away. Fortunately or unfortunately, it’s a one-way trip, so I’m told, with no possibility of ever returning.” - Mel wrote in a typewriter ribbon found in his office.
Where the case stands today.
Today, Mel has remained missing for more than 37 years. There have been no sightings or other pieces of evidence that have been able to lead investigators closer to finding out the truth about Mel’s disappearance. His social security number, bank accounts, etc. have not been touched since his disappearance. Authorities who investigated the case at the time of his disappearance believe that Mel is alive and that he left on his own accord. His case, however, remains open and unsolved because they have been unable to confirm this.
“Throughout the investigation we felt that Mel was alive. And so far we are convinced that we have a successful conclusion - we’re sure he wasn’t murdered or drowned and that he just decided to walk away from it all.” - Detective James R. Bigam, Medina Police Department.
At the time of his disappearance in 1985, Mel was described as a 47 year old caucasian man with unknown hair and eye color. He was between 5’9”-6’ tall and weighed approximately 160-165 lbs. Melvin has patches of very pale skin on his neck and arms that was caused by exposure to radiation. He has a wart on his nose, is balding, and smokes Salem cigarettes. Today, Mel would be 84 years old. If you have any information regarding Melvin's whereabouts or his disappearance, please contact the Hinckley Police Department at (330) 278-7161, the Medina County Sheriff's Office at (330) 725-0028, or the Medina Police Department at (330) 725-7777.