GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Charred bones found shortly after Green Cove Springs Police Department officer Phil Duval arrived at a vacant burning house at 404 Harrison St. on Dec. 10, 1989, were finally identified more than 30 years later.
Tests at the University of North Texas recently confirmed the dead woman was Melinda Joyce Holder after re-examining her remains and comparing it with DNA samples from her children, GCSPD said.
Holder was reported missing by her adoptive mother, Theresa Plummer, on Jan. 24, 1990. Although investigators with the Green Cove Police and the Florida State Fire Marshal’s office believed the dead woman to be Holder, they weren’t able to make a conclusive identification until they re-opened the case.
“A Mitochondrial DNA test comparison conducted by the University of North Texas has led to the discovery that Holder’s children and the remains discovered in the 1989 fire had significant matches, GCSPD Lt. John Guzman said in a release. “With this evidence, the Duval County Medical Examiner’s Office has issued a death certificate for Melinda Holder. Evidence from the 1989 fire leads our investigators to believe Melinda Holder was deceased for a considerable amount of time before her body was damaged in the fire. Our department is investigating leads and examining evidence recovered from the scene.”
The vacant house was known to be a local hangout for drug users, Guzman said. The house had been condemned and was scheduled to be torn down. The fire started in a bedroom near the front of the house, according to then-Asst. Fire Chief Richard Knoff. It was the same room where Holder’s remains were found.
Anyone with information on Holder’s disappearance, her subsequent death, or the house fire on Harrison Street is urged to contact the Criminal Investigations Section of the Green Cove Springs Police Department (904) 529-2220, or First Coast Crime Stoppers.