The Fayette Citizen-News Page

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Chief detective finds murder suspect's missing stepdaughter; remains near her home identified


While wrapping up a final hot lead on a 25-year-old murder case, Maj. Bruce Jordan of the Fayette County Sheriff's Department did an indirect favor to the very man he helped put behind bars for the killings, admitted murderer Carl Millard Patton Jr.

At the same time, he may have helped solve another murder that of Patton's stepdaughter, Melissa Wolfenbarger, who was reported missing from her Atlanta home several years ago near Metropolitan Boulevard.

Jordan and other sheriff's detectives worked with medical examiner's offices across Georgia and came across a file on an unidentified body that was discovered in Atlanta just a few blocks from Wolfenberger's home.

Atlanta police had previously reconstructed the body's face and determined it to be that of a male, but after the latest information they agreed to reopen the case. Dental records from Wolfenberger's dentist confirmed the remains were indeed hers.

"I was glad to give some closure to the family," Jordan said.

Wolfenbarger's disappearance is "suspicious" because her husband at the time didn't report her missing, Jordan said. Instead her mother filed the missing persons report, months after she allegedly disappeared, the chief detective added.

Christopher Wolfenbarger said in a phone interview that his wife disappeared from the couple's home one evening in November 1998 and never came back, Jordan said. He declined to be interviewed in person and called from an undisclosed location.

Knowing there was a warrant for Christopher Wolfenberger's arrest for violation of probation from Gwinnett County, Jordan hunted Wolfenberger down and found him in Dublin living under a different name. He notified the Laurens County Sheriff's Department of the warrant, and deputies arrested him at his Dublin residence, Jordan said.

So far, Christopher Wolfenbarger has not been charged with his wife's murder, but Jordan insists Melissa Wolfenberger's death is indeed a homicide.

The case has been handed over to the Atlanta Police Department's homicide division, Jordan said. He added that none of the evidence points to Patton, the admitted serial killer.

"It was a loose end that needed to be looked into," because of the ties to Patton, an admitted serial murder, Jordan said.

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