Butch Hinton signed letter

Butch Hinton signed letter


In brutally specific detail, his pale hands trembling, a Georgia inmate admitted  for the first time that he kidnapped and raped a 19-year-old college student in 1994, then strangled her with a necktie as she lay handcuffed to a bedpost and burned her body in a bonfire in his backyard.

"I can't live like this no more," Colvin "Butch'' Hinton told a Georgia prosecutor and the detective who led the investigation into the murder of Shannon Melendi, at a jailhouse meeting at Georgia State Prison attended by ABC News' Law & Justice Unit.

"If I have to stay in a cell for 23 hours a day for the rest of my life, at least I can breathe,'' Hinton said. "She can't.''

"The prison that I am in is no comparison to the prison inside of me,'' Hinton, 45, said a few minutes later.

Luis Melendi, Shannon's father, who fought for more than a decade to see his daughter's killer charged, turned his ire on the police.

"He is a more professional criminal than the police are professional policemen,'' Melendi told ABC News. "He killed her and burned her body in the backyard? The police were out there and they could not find a trace of my daughter. I don't believe that. I'm sitting here, and I don't believe that."

Melendi, who has long criticized the police who investigated the case, had little to say about Hinton, who wasn't charged with the murder until 2004.

"He destroyed my family,'' Melendi said.

Hinton was the first defendant in Georgia history to be convicted of murder without a body or a crime scene. But it took law enforcement officials a decade to build a strong enough case.

The letter is typed, but hand signed. There is no envelope with the letter.

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