St. Johns County

Detective working to solve 30-year-old murder mystery out of Green Cove Springs

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. — Advanced DNA testing is helping Green Cove Springs police solve a 30-year-old cold case in which a local mother who disappeared.

For more than 30 years, a Green Cove Springs mystery has kept family members and detectives awake at night.

“How close are you all to solving this case?” asked Action News Jax Reporter Jamarlo Phillips. "I couldn’t say we’re this close or 100 percent or 10 percent. It’s an ongoing investigation,” said Green Cove Springs Detective Erin Vineyard.

Detective Vineyard, who specializes in cold cases, is working to find out how a mother of five children died.

“Thirty-year technology was trying for us because you go from handwritten notes, typewriting to computers,” explained Vineyard.

Melinda Holder was first reported missing Jan. 24, 1989.

Police say her body was later found in December of that year beneath the rubble of a burned-out house.

They say an autopsy determined her body had been there many days before.

Police say Holder’s body was found in an empty house that was a local hangout for drug users.

Family members said her body was found not even a block away from where they last saw her.

Tests were done in 2006 using her children’s DNA, but they were unsuccessful.

But new science and new tests done at the University of North Texas were finally able to confirm Holder’s identity last week.

“We swabbed the children again and resent it in for DNA but there was no hit, but the mitochondrial, which shows maternal DNA linkage, is what proved them to be related,” Vineyard explained.

Now the challenge is using that to find her killer.

“The hardest part is going to be the tale of time,” said Vineyard.

Vineyard said there are people they would to talk to who might help solve this case.

“We have an answer now we’re going to pursue more of that answer,” said Vineyard.

Holder’s children are hoping someone will come forward soon.

“It’s getting through 30 years of technology to get us to where we are today,” Vineyard said.

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