Convict Details Victim's 1994 Rape, Strangulation, Burning
ATLANTA – A man convicted of killing a college student in 1994 told authorities how he raped her, strangled her, burned her body and disposed of her ashes to make it unlikely her remains would ever be found.
Colvin Hinton invited law enforcers and the victim's father, among others, to a state prison in Reidsville, Ga., to hear his two-hour confession Monday to the murder of Emory University student Shannon Melendi.
Her father refused to listen in, saying he didn't want it to become a circus.
"He wanted to tell me how he raped and murdered my daughter, and that sounds like control," Luis Melendi said. "I wasn't going to be part of it."
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The 19-year-old Miami woman disappeared after leaving a softball field near Decatur where she was working as a scorekeeper and Hinton was an umpire.
Hinton, who had served time for abducting women, wasn't charged until 2004 though he had been a suspect for years.
Despite the lack of a body, prosecutors had obtained a conviction last year, presenting witnesses who had served time with Hinton in prison who testified that he had made incriminating statements about the case.
A reporter from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was present for Hinton's confession at Hinton's invitation.
"I hate what I done," Hinton said, according to the newspaper. "I know I'll never, ever be forgiven by most people. And I accept that. But I am so sorry. I've hurt so many people with the lies I've told."
According to DeKalb County prosecutor Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming and the account in the newspaper, Hinton said he kidnapped the woman at knifepoint, taking her to his home, tying her up, raping her and later strangling her.
He said he then burned the body in several fire pits he dug in his backyard and disposed of the ashes elsewhere, Keyes Fleming said.
"There were nothing but ashes left," she said Hinton told authorities. While authorities said they will try to locate them, she described the confession as "what may be the final chapter in the Shannon Melendi case."
It is unclear why Hinton decided to confess now, Keyes Fleming said, adding, "There's some indication he was clearing his conscience."
Defense lawyer B.J. Bernstein said Hinton had never confessed to her but wanted to tell the truth since his appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court failed last month.
"This is a unique thing for a client to want to do this, but this was his idea," she said. "He needed to tell the truth about what happened."
The sit-down with Hinton was brokered over at least a week. No promises were made to him, and the prosecutor said she will push to make sure he is never released on parole.