It felt good to be back on the road again, even though the weather had become nearly unbearable. The snow had not stopped relentlessly falling for the past few days, and didn't seem destined to end any time in the near future. But Laura was more than happy to brave the bitter cold if it meant getting away from her desk and the menial task of looking through old cell phone records. She wasn't cut out for that sort of work; it was the one thing she always feared when attempting to make it to the detective desk. Working the streets allowed her that perfect amount of professional freedom that she needed in life. It's what helped her deal with all the stress that's brought on by being a police officer. And though she had excelled as a detective so far, she could feel the stress creeping up on her. It bit at her heels and there was nothing that could be done to stop it.
But those feelings were something that she had become accustomed to pushing aside; she'd become astute at bottling them up and doing her job to the best of her ability. She knew that detective work was an important part of the force and was the kind of stepping stone that she needed to move up the ranks. That was a compromise that she was willing to make; her personal well-being and her job were not on equal grounds. At least not until she had made Lieutenant. Then maybe she could relax and deal with all the bullshit that seemed to always hovering just around her. There was no time for it now, though, since she was on the way to another interview. This one was different, the missing person was only just recently reported missing, which gave her hope that they might actually find him and crack all the other cases in the process. She was letting her mind wander too far off that goal, and off her surroundings. Shane, her partner, was driving poorly in the freshly fallen snow.
“We won't actually find out any useful information if the two of us are left sitting up in the hospital, you know?” she said to him, as he had to pump the breaks to keep from sliding into the tail-end of a stationary truck stopped at a traffic light. “Unless of course that is your master plan.”
“No, not really a master plan. Just a really bad habit of not focusing on the road.” he turned his head and looked directly into her eyes. “It's why I wrecked three cruisers my first two years on the job.”
“I don't know whether to be slightly impressed or majorly worried.” she kept a deadpan look on her face in response.
“Oh, worried for sure, and it shouldn't even be close. I'm terrible.” he replied with a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth.
“And bad at driving.” she said.
“Well that's harsh, but I guess I'm getting used to that.” he said, this time his grin was in full effect. “Still, it would be nice if you let up once in awhile.”
“That would totally defeat the purpose though, being nice and all that.”
“There's a purpose to the insults?” he asked.
“Naturally, it's to toughen you up. You seemed pretty soft.” she said with her own smile peering through her stoic look. “ But I think it's working already.”
“Thanks. I think.” he said as he once again had to pump the breaks to avoid sliding into the back of another vehicle.
Those of you who have followed the story, or heard the original radio calls, know that Mel claimed to have gone to Australia after the Government began leasing his property. He was making $250,000 a month and used that money to start a Wombat Rescue and Rehabilitation Center in what he said was Perth, Australia.
The name Mel Waters was clearly a name he was using as a way to disguise himself (so that people wouldn't come up to the property after the first call) and it's very likely that Perth wasn't the actual location of the Wombat center. After looking for Wombat rescue places that opened up sometime after 1997, but before December 1999 when Mel came back to the States, I found this article.
It comes from the Sydney Morning Herald, on the complete opposite side of the country. It was published Febuary 28th, 1998. Roughly 13 months after Mel had moved to Australia, which seems like enough time to set-up a place like that. Are the two people mentioned in the story the real names of Mel and his eventual ex-Wife?
Unlikely, but you never know. Like much else in this story, it's just another thing to look at and wonder if it could all be true.
(Click the images for larger versions.)
I've decided to start compiling all the information on Mel's Hole I've been able to gather throughout the years, and am planning on putting a book together. That way there is an easy go-to source for those that prefer things the old fashioned way.
It hopefully won't be too long to put it together, and I'll keep everyone here updated.
For the next few nights, I'm going to be taking the time to look over some satellite imagry from 1998, as well as from now. I have a few general areas to check and will post any potential finds. Thanks.
I recently came into possession of a photograph, it's an old Polaroid style one. The person who gave me it wished to stay anonymous, but wanted me to share their story and the photo. The story, as told to me, goes like this:
"Early one summer, my girlfriend and I decided that we'd visit the Botanical Gardens in San Antonio. It's always been one of those places that you see advertised alongside the Alamo as places to visit if you want to sight-see. It's got a lot of different types of plants, flowers, and a trail that you can walk along. We went while the heat was still somewhat bearable, and there was a decent amount of people walking around.
My girlfriend (wife now) and I are big “people watchers” and like to comment to each other when we see something that we might find humorous about a person. We had not been there long, and were standing near a wood pavilion towards the front of the gardens. As people were walking past to head along the trail that looped around the entire gardens, we saw a pair of girls. They looked to be no older than 15 or 16, and were dressed like how you picture someone from the late '80s or early '90s. That's actually why I pointed them out, because I thought that they looked out of place for modern teens. They had on a lot of neon colors, feathered hair, and lots of bracelets and things like that. We both had a laugh to each other because my wife had brought along an old Polaroid camera from the '80s to take pictures with. She collects cameras, and enjoys using the older ones. We quickly forgot about the girls as we made our own way through the gardens a couple of minutes after them.
The trail that you follow starts up high, and goes down and circles around a few different pools of water in the middle of the gardens. You have to walk down, and then it takes you back up to the very top. It's actually a bit of a hike, and you don't realize how long it takes to get to the top until you're finally up there. There is a nice view of downtown San Antonio once you make it up there, so it's worth the walk. We were taking our time, and my girlfriend was taking pictures of flowers and the scenery as we went. After going along the path for a bit, you reach a waterfall that drains into one of the pools of water. The waterfall is at the very top of the path, and after the part that you can see the city from. It would take you a good 30 to 40 minutes walk the entire way.
She pointed her camera up and took a photograph of the waterfall. Since it's a Polaroid, it takes awhile for the photo to show. So we just kept walking along and looking at the flowers and the fish in the water. But once the photo had developed, she asked me to have a look. That's when we saw what is so odd about this picture. There is what looks to be a girl looking down from the top of the waterfall at us. And the girl looked just like one of the two teens we had seen at the start just a few minutes before. It still hadn't really set in yet, because we didn't realize how long of a walk it really was to the top of the gardens and that spot she had to have been in.
But after reaching the top 30 minutes later, that's when things started not to add up. The two girls had only left minutes before us, and we weren't walking that slowly through the gardens. There was no way that she could have made it through the entire path in that amount of time before my girlfriend snapped that picture. And what was even more unusual was that the top of the waterfall was actually sort of far off the path, and roped off. There was even a sign warning people about going near it, since it was a pretty far fall to the bottom and could be dangerous to stand on because of the flowing water.
We also couldn't remember seeing the girls again at all, and made an effort to spot them back at the end of the trail, but had no luck. It was a pretty weird thing to have happen in the middle of the day, but we couldn't really explain just how they could have gotten up there so fast, why she would have been that far close to the edge of the waterfall, and where they went to afterwards."
I was able to share a picture of the Polaroid itself, as well as scanning and uploading it for a closer look. It's a bit hard to make out, since the film quality isn't the best to begin with, but you can see what seems to be the head and shoulders of a girl with long brown hair peering over the edge of the waterfall. I can't really claim to know much more about it, or the validity of it, but none of the trees or bushes around the shape that is similar to a person look anything like her. The white coloring in front of her is part of that bush, but you can see that the object in the photo is behind that plant.
Something that I want to point out, that the person who gave me the photo missed, is that you can see the top of another girls head just to the left of the girl that is looking over the edge. Did the couple capture a photo of the two girls they saw? If so, how did they get to the top of the waterfall so quickly? What would the odds be that two other girls who looked similar would be up there and standing at the end of a dangerous waterfall?
It's an odd picture and story, regardless. (Click Photos to see them full size)