Baton Rouge police take new look at LSU student's 1985 death

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BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Police in Baton Rouge are taking a new look at the 1985 slaying of an LSU doctoral candidate, hoping advances in DNA testing will shed new light on the case.

Geology student Melissa Montz, 27, had been missing for 51 days when her remains were found in November 1985 in a ditch near the 18th fairway of LSU's golf course. Police said at the time she had been tied to a log and raped. No arrests were ever made.

The Advocate reports ( ) that investigators now hope testing of items found at the scene might turn up new clues that could help solve the case.

"We knew that there are people that know stuff about this case," said Detective Logan Collins, who is in charge of the cold-case investigation. "There were people who called in information that you would've only known if someone that did the crime had told you."

Montz was found with ropes around her arms, neck and legs, Collins said. He believes she was strangled, but so much of her body had disintegrated it was nearly impossible to definitely determine a cause of death, he said. An intense rain came not long after she was left in the ditch filled with trash and debris, he said.

Montz's shorts were gone, but her shirt and shoes were found, along with a whistle, Collins said. She was also missing a ring and a watch, but detectives don't know if the items were stolen or washed away, he said.

Investigators believe Montz was abducted while on her regular morning run past the golf course, between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. on a day in early October. Because she kept such a reliable schedule, someone could have been tracking Montz, but the attack could easily have been random.

It "appears to be more of a crime of opportunity than anything," Collins said.

In the years after Montz went missing, newspaper accounts brought up her name in possible connection to Baton Rouge serial killers like Sean Vincent Gillis and Derrick Todd Lee. But those men committed murders in the 1990s, later than when Montz was killed. Collins isn't convinced there's any link.

Montz's friends still hope for answers in the case.

"I miss her. I'm horrified at what was done," said Louise Hose, a geologist and classmate of Montz. "She is one of the reminders of how precious life is and how terribly short it can be."


Information from: The Advocate,

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