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Family of Rocky River murder victim pleading to keep her killer locked up

The family of a Rocky River teenager who was brutally murdered nearly 30 years ago are pleading...
The family of a Rocky River teenager who was brutally murdered nearly 30 years ago are pleading with the state to stop their loved one’s killer from becoming a free man.(Melissa Herstrum Foundation)
Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 7:31 PM EDT
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ROCKY RIVER, Ohio (WOIO) - The family of a Rocky River teenager who was brutally murdered nearly 30 years ago is pleading with the state to stop their loved one’s killer from becoming a free man.

When Jeffrey Hodge was sentenced to life in prison, Melissa Herstrum’s family and friends finally got the justice they long-awaited, though were sentenced, too, to a life dealing with the loss of Melissa.

That pain only intensified, after finding out that Hodge could soon be walking free among them.

Hodge is eligible for parole this year.

He has a hearing scheduled for later this month and the Ohio Parole Board is currently considering letting him out early for good behavior.

The family of a Rocky River teenager who was brutally murdered nearly 30 years ago are pleading...
The family of a Rocky River teenager who was brutally murdered nearly 30 years ago are pleading with the state to stop their loved one’s killer from becoming a free man.(State of Ohio)

Melissa was your typical teen.

She was a highly involved student at Rocky River High School, being a member of the cheerleading team and school choir.

She graduated from Rocky River in 1990 and went on to study at the University of Toledo.

She had dreams of becoming a nurse, but those dreams were shattered by a terrifying nightmare.

One night, 19-year-old Melissa was pulled over by Hodge, who was a university police officer at the time.

Hodge placed Melissa in handcuffs, drove her to a remote campus parking lot, and shot her 14 times.

Hodge, who was 22 years old at the time, later pleaded guilty to Melissa’s murder.

When asked by a judge why he did it, Hodge responded: “I don’t know, for no reason.”

Hodge was sentenced to life in prison. But, nearly 30 years later, he could be released from prison.

“When this happened in 1992 there was not an option to have life in prison without parole,” said TJ McManamon, one of Melissa’s close friends.

McManamon told 19 News he’s sick by the thought of Melissa’s killer being able to see the light of day, once again.

“There’s no reason he should be released from prison,” he said.

McManamon, along with Melissa’s family, former classmates, and countless friends are urging everyone to send a letter to the parole board to keep Hodge locked away for good.

“It’s the best thing for the safety of the community,” McManamon said.

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