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She was killed in an ND hit-and-run in 2019. Police ID'd the vehicle type. But who was the driver?

Evidence indicates 39-year-old Christina Lynn Melvin was struck and killed between 4:45 and 4:59 a.m. on April 7, 2019, in Grand Forks. It was later determined that Melvin, a resident of Bedford, Pennsylvania, had been passing through Grand Forks on the Amtrak train.

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Christina Lynn Melvin, a resident of Bedford Pennsylvania, was passing through Grand Forks on the Amtrak train when she was killed in a hit and run on April 7, 2019.
Meghan Arbegast/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Three years after the hit and run that killed 39-year-old Christina Lynn Melvin, the answers into who was driving the vehicle that fatally struck her remains unknown.

The case has since been declared a cold case for the Grand Forks Police Department.

The incident happened around 4:59 a.m. on April 7, 2019. Officers at the Grand Forks Police Department were dispatched around the area of DeMers Avenue and Interstate 29 for a report of a possibly deceased subject later identified as Melvin. When arriving on scene CPR was administered, but Melvin was pronounced dead while being transported to Altru Hospital.

Evidence collected from the scene indicated that Melvin was struck by an unknown vehicle and the crash was believed to have occurred between 4:45 and 4:59 a.m. The car that struck Melvin was believed to be driving eastbound in the 4500-4600 block of DeMers Avenue. Several witnesses who saw Melvin walking in the area at the time were interviewed by investigators.

It was later determined that Melvin, a resident of Bedford, Pennsylvania, was passing through Grand Forks on the Amtrak train.

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Vehicle debris collected from the scene was analyzed to determine the make and model of the striking vehicle with results indicating it was most likely a 2010 white Nissan Altima. The damage obtained to the vehicle was believed to be to the right front corner of the car with possible damage to the hood.

While a potential vehicle has been identified, a known driver of the vehicle hasn’t. At the time of the incident GFPD first offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the driver that struck Melvin, though the department upped the reward to $5,000 later in 2019.

While Melvin’s case is the most recent cold case at the Grand Forks Police Department, it isn’t the only hit and run that has been designated as a cold case. On Nov. 21, 1992, 42-year-old Mary Tepe was killed in a hit and run at the intersection of 11th Avenue North and North Washington Street. Little evidence was left at the scene and there were only a few witness accounts.

The 40-year cold case of 65-year-old Dolly Arnold who was killed in a hit and run on Dec. 23, 1981, was closed last year after investigators listed a city bus driver, who has since died and was never charged, as a main suspect. The police report indicated that it is unclear whether the bus driver would have even known that his bus struck Arnold, if that was the case.

GFPD Lt. Jeremy Moe told the Herald previously that when working on cold cases, the department assigns each case to an investigator. Each investigator revisits their assigned case every year to see if new evidence has been presented.

"That new information gets assigned to them and they follow up like they would normally do on any other case," Moe said.

While available forensic technology can help crack some of the cold cases from decades ago, there are limitations.

"Some of the cases that we have, we have sent all those samples or biologicals to the lab so there's no further testing that we can do with some of these cases unless something new that we don't currently have access to becomes available," Moe said. "That's one of the things that we're always constantly reviewing. Is there new technology or something that evidence can again be reviewed for some of these cases? That's part of that annual review."

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Other than those three hit and runs being designated as cold cases, according to records from the GFPD, a total of 340 vehicular hit and runs occurred last year and 163 have occurred so far this year. In the past 12 years, 2011 had the most vehicular hit and runs with a total of 477.

For pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes 2021 had a total of nine and five have occurred so far in 2022. 2017 had the most pedestrian/motor vehicle crashes with a total of 25.

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Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 719-235-8640 or MArbegast@gfherald.com.

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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