Vulnerable in Ventura; The Case Of Cindy Lee Mellin

Vulnerable in Ventura, the case of Cindy Lee Mellin

In the 1960’s and 1970’s, long before the comfort and security of a cell phone to aide in an emergency, or the cameras along every street to provide clues in the cases of missing persons, young women simply vanished from the face of the Earth never to be seen again. One such woman was Cynthia Lee Mellin.

On January 20,1970, 19 year old Cindy Lee Mellin, as most people knew her, left her job at Broadway department store in Ventura,California  located in the Bueanaventura Shopping Center.

At 10:30 pm after closing, two of Cindy’s co-workers noticed Cindy standing by her car in the parking lot next to an unknown male,tall and slim, approximately 35-40 years old. The man was in the process of jacking up Cindy’s car. About thirty minutes later, after grabbing a cup of coffee, the co-workers passed by Cindy’s car once again. This time, they saw no people around it, and figured that Cindy’s father had come to pick her up after having car trouble. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.


The next morning, at 4:45 am, Cindy’s father awoke and immediately noticed that Cindy wasn’t home, and her car wan’t in the driveway. He quickly got dressed and drove to Cindy’s work to see if her car was there. He found her car,still up on the jack with the flat tire still on the car.  Cindy’s father knew something was wrong and immediately alerted police.

The police came to the scene, and quickly determined that Cindy was likely the victim of foul play, as she was a ‘good girl’ and not the type to run off or vanish on her own. The only thing police had to go on was the vague description of the man seen helping Cindy, and he quickly became a suspect.  One sinister fact stood out in Cindy’s case. Cindy’s father later examined the flat tire on her car, and found that it had been deliberately punctured with a large slash in one side.

Over the years, Cindy’s case went cold and she quickly became just another in a long line of young women missing in California during the time.

Despite the lack of answers or resolution in Cindy’s case, there was a strong suspect developed. Police were trying to locate & ID a ‘Sam Roper’.  This was an alias allegedly used by a man named Edward Nelson Cole. Cole was suspected by many within law enforcement to have been the man seen changing Cindy’s tire that night, and they believe he likely abducted and murdered her. Cole, during this time period, had a job burying pipes along the highway in southern CA, and they believe that he discarded Cindy’s body burying it somewhere along the highway.  In later years of the investigation, police actually had trouble locating the whereabouts of Cole.  I easily found him in Florida where he died in 2005, and passed this information along to police. Additionally, I located the real ‘Sam Roper’ in South Carolina whose ID Cole had stolen. It turns out, Cole and the real Sam Roper, were born on the same day. I’ve never been able to determine how or why Cole came to use Roper’s name, or how he knew that they shared the same date of birth. I’d like to stress, that Cole’s alleged involvement in Cindy’s case, is just that-alleged. There has never been enough evidence to arrest Cole, or anyone else for that matter.

Cindy’s case remains unsolved today 47 years later, and sadly,will likely remain that way. Cindy’s parents died never knowing the truth about what happened to her or getting the closure they desperately wanted. It would be easy for Cindy’s case to be forgotten after all these years, but true crime Bloggers like myself won’t let that happen, and we shouldn’t. Cindy lives on forever on the internet, and so does the search for answers in her case.




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