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Episode 55 | The Suspicious Disappearance of Debra Melo, Taunton, Massachusetts (part one)

With Steve Demoura, Debra's brother-in-law and dedicated advocate to get justice for Debra and her family.

In June 2000, Debra Melo was a young mother trying to navigate the end the only relationship she knew. She'd gotten married at 16, had two kids, and found that life was very different by age 30. She was making her way out and finally taking steps to get away from the person who'd been suffocating her for so long, a controlling and domineering man. But she disappeared before she could do any of that. 

On the afternoon of June 20, 2000, her husband, Luis Melo, drove her to her doctor's appointment in Weymouth, 30 miles from their home in Taunton, Massachusetts.

Her husband's account of that day is all we have to go on. His claim is they had an argument on the drive home and Debra demanded he let her out of the car at a busy part of Route 18 in Weymouth.  According to Luis Melo, he went back to get her but she was gone. This is the first of many red flags in this case. Debra left her pocketbook, wallet, identification, and cell phone in the car. That by itself is suspicious.

In this first part of a two-part series, I talk to Steve Demoura, brother-in-law of Debra and former husband of her sister, Patricia, who has been an integral part of her case and the investigation into her disappearance. We talk about the challenges of her disappearance and the timing of it - exactly one week before teenager Molly Bish went missing in Warren, Mass. We break down the fabric of a family and their relentless search for justice and the toll her disappearance has taken. 

Plus we take a closer look at The Silver City, walking through the places that once sparkled with life in Taunton, through landmarks like the famed Silver City Galleria Mall where Richard Simmons shot one of his legendary infomercials (and we meet Joanie!) and darker moments that mark its history and the weight of its memories.

*correction: Louis A. Melo Jr passed on Dec 13, 2023

Crime of the Truest Kind

Massachusetts and New England true crime stories

Hosted by Anngelle Wood

photo gallery

Photos of Debra with her sister Patricia, missing fliers, images from the 2017 dig, family members rally to get information on her case, the Melo home on Baylies Road in Taunton where Debra lived with her family, the Dunkin Donuts on Ivory Street in Braintree where she and Luis worked,

Updated Missing persons flier

Where is Joanie from Taunton?


Naval Air Station development

Unsolved South Shore 


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