Family Wants Others to Learn About Intruder Violence Following Daughter’s Murder
According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 3 women will experience violence in their life time, whether it be in an intimate relationship or by a complete stranger. In 2001, a Girard couple received a life changing phone call, their 24 year old daughter had been murdered. Fifteen years later, they choose to relive that day so that others can learn from it.
Maurice and Terri Harley surround themselves with pictures of their daughter Melisa, keeping happier memories alive.
“She just loved to laugh and just loved people so whenever she was around there was just always joy in the room, that’s just how she was, exciting and fun,” says her mother Terri Harley.
They say they have imagined her murder many times over in their heads. In 2001, Melisa opened her front door expecting her friends. That’s when an intruder forced his way into her home, raped and stabbed her to death. She was found by her husband Michael Auguston hours later.
“Melisa had indicated to Michael that she thought she was being followed or stalked or something like that and they had talked about it,” says her father Maurice Harley.
“He actually had friends go over and stay with her a couple of times but nothing had come of it so they just kind of let it go,” adds Terri.
Police say when it comes to personal safety, if you think somethings not right, it probably isn’t.
“They need to take time to evaluate the situation and look around because the feelings that people have are often right,” says Sergeant Austin Wolf with the Joplin Police Department.
Also having a relationship with neighbors is key, that way if something looks strange they can call police. And you should do more than just lock your doors.
“Changing light bulbs out and having exterior lighting is a major thing and it’s a very positive thing, keeping bushes trimmed back to where there’s a clear line of sight out of your house will allow you to take a look before you go outside,” adds Sergeant Wolf.
Years later the Harley’s relive the tragedy for an Investigative Discovery Channel TV show so that others can avoid danger.
“The worlds changing out there and if she had just taken the time to maybe look out the window, she would be here today. So I think that’s what we’re we saying, just use caution.”
Melisa graduated from Pittsburg State University in 1999. The show depicting Melisa’s death, “Murder Comes to Town,” airs tomorrow on Investigation Discovery at 9 p.m.