Investigators dig in Woburn backyard for teen missing since 1989

WOBURN, Mass. ( -- She has been missing for more than a quarter of a century. And Thursday, only FOX25 was there as investigators opened up a new search for 14-year-old Melanie Melanson of Woburn.

FOX25 has been covering this story for years. Our Bob Ward was the only reporter on the ground as investigators began digging at a new location, where investigators only recently gained access to. Ward learned that the property recently changed ownership and that's allowing a team of volunteers, including Mission for the Missing, and Forensic Archeology Recovery, to go on the property and start digging.

This is a methodical grid search, directed by the same forensic anthropologist who unearthed the Whitey Bulger death pits. And the search is located in a backyard that's long interested investigators.

A team of volunteers sifted through a Woburn backyard searching for Melanson. The teen vanished in October of 1989.

Her uncle, Frank Masciulli said, "They were at a party at night, and she never came home the next day."

With each shovel full of dirt, the investigators hope they are closer to bringing Melanson home.

Over the years, the woods where Melanson was last seen have been searched extensively. There have been other digs. But right now, investigators are focused on one backyard. It is an area they have long wanted to search.

Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Ann Marie Mires is directing the search and says if she is there, "We'll find her."

A cadaver dog, ground penetrating radar, and witness statements have all led investigators to the backyard. Woburn police closely watch, as Dr. Mires and her team methodically examine three areas here.

Shortly before Melanson disappeared dirt from Boston's big dig was spread over the backyard. And ground penetrating radar signals that bounced back, suggest something could be there. 

Her family stood by, watching the dig. After a quarter century, they couldn't imagine being anywhere else and one family member says, "We will search forever until we find her."

Woburn police officers were also on site. If Melanson is found, the search site would immediately become a crime scene.