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Missing woman's family to hold fundraiser

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The family of Melanie Metheny has never given up hope of learning what happened to her six years ago.

They don't want everyone else to forget, either.

The family will have a fundraiser Saturday at Coonskin Park to mark the seventh anniversary of Metheny's disappearance. The 21-year-old mother of three dropped her children off at daycare on July 19, 2006, but what happened to her after that has remained a mystery.

"We do still have hope," said Sandra Metheny of Belle, Melanie's grandmother.

She and Melanie's mother, Debbie Daniels of Fredericksburg, Va., planned the activities at Coonskin that will mark the beginning of an annual event to raise money for one of her favorite things -- animals.

According to the family, Melanie loved animals from a young age and had a great desire to help any animal in need.

Melanie's HOPE -- which stands for Help Our Pets Endure -- will benefit local animal organizations.

"We aren't sure yet what the money will go to," Daniels said. "We've been taking applications by email, and I'm coming in Thursday. On Friday I'll meet with some groups."

The fundraiser will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Coonskin's Columbia Shelter. The family has planned plenty of kid-friendly activities that they hope will generate the fund's first income.

"We'll have little carnival games, a face painter, raffles, food and music," Daniels said. "These are little things we've planned ourselves, like a bean bag toss, duckies in a pool -- it will be like 25 cents a ticket.

"We're hoping it will be fun," she said. "This is our first time, and we're hoping to do it each year. We put quite a bit of money into it so far this year, and we think each year it will get better."

Even though this is considered a "cold case," Metheny's family still keeps in touch with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department and hopes her disappearance can someday be solved.

"It's been very hard," Daniels said of her daughter's case. "We've had a lot of ups and downs, mostly downs.

"Lots of tips have come in," she said. "It has pulled us together, and apart, and drawn us back together again."

According to information listed on the Kanawha County Sheriff's department website, Metheny left her Campbells Creek residence on the morning of July 19 with her children. She dropped two off with a relative in the Dry Branch area and continued on to Country Kids Daycare in Belle.

After that drop-off at about 8 a.m., she told family and day care workers she was headed to Garnett Career College and West Virginia State College, but there's no indication she made it.

Her 1998 Chevrolet van was found four days later near Wyoming Street and Beuhring Avenue on the West Side. Her purse, cell phone, debit and food stamp card were gone.

Metheny is about 5 feet 3 and 100 pounds. She has strawberry blond hair.

Cpl. Brian Humphries with the sheriff's department said the investigation has been active from the beginning. Detective Samantha Ferrell, who heads up that investigation, is passionate about the Metheny case, he said.

"I can't tell you a week that has gone by that she hasn't had some tip on it," Humphries said. "Action on it is non-stop. There's always somebody calling in, but it doesn't pan out."

"The case has been dwindling in the public's eye," said Daniels. "We want to do something to keep it there. She's still missing."

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at or 304-348-4832. 


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