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Hinton Confesses to Melendi Murder

Video: Kevin Rowson Reports/>

Colvin "Butch" Hinton has confessed to raping and strangling Emory University student Shannon Melendi and then burning her body, a prosecutor said Monday.Hinton had been convicted of the 1994 murder of the 19-year-old by a DeKalb County court in 2004, 10 years after her disappearance. He had been a prime suspect in the crime, although Melendi's body was never found.Melendi was last seen on March 26, 1994, working a part-time job at a softball complex where Hinton was working as an umpire. In his confession from the state prison in Reidsville, Hinton said he gave Melendi a ride to a Burger King and then tricked her into driving his car by faking a leg cramp.At that point, Hinton says, he pulled a knife and forced Melendi to drive to his home in Clayton County. He says he raped her repeatedly for the next 12 hours. Hinton said he then strangled Melendi with a necktie, then burned her body in a firepit in his backyard and scattered the ashes, according to DeKalb County District Attorney Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming."The way he went about it was to create a firepit that he stoked for eight or more hours to get to be hot enough so that it was able to dispose of the body and there were nothing but ashes left," Fleming said at a Monday afternoon news conference.Melendi's father, who wondered for 12 years about the fate of his daughter, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that someone connected to the case informed him Monday of the confession. "Somebody let me know they had a meeting this morning and let me know he confessed," Melendi said. He declined to elaborate.DeKalb County detective Dave Fonseco reopened the case two years ago. "This is just a weight off my shoulders to know that whatever his reasons are I hope to think he's got a conscience." Fonseco told 11Alive's Kevin Rowson that he was always convinced of Hinton's guilt.Hinton had been sent to federal prison in 1996 on unrelated arson charges. Inmates there say he talked to them about disposing a body. Their testimony was used in Hinton's 2004 murder trial.On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court denied a request to hear Hinton's appeal and reconsider his conviction. Hinton could be eligible for parole in 14 years. The D.A. said her office will do everything possible to make sure Hinton spends the rest of his life in prison.

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