Under the gleam of an electronic billboard, family and friends gathered in a circle, holding candles and saying prayers.
Looking down on them was the image of two smiling 27-year-old women captioned with a question: “Who killed Melissa Mason and Nicole Glass?”
It was the fifth year family and friends of the two slain Phoenix women have gathered on December 3, to mourn the deaths of Melissa and Nicole. And tragically for the womens' family, the case remains unsolved.
No suspects have been disclosed. There is no apparent motive.
“I’m just hoping for closure, some resolution from this nightmare,” says Rachel Glass, Nicole’s mother. “I can accept that she’s gone. What I can’t accept is this person that committed this horrible crime remains free.”
The candlelight vigil held Thursday night in downtown Phoenix was organized in part by Silent Witness, to spur interest in the case. The billboard offering a $10,000 reward remained lit for three hours.
“For a parent, the worst think in world that can happen to is to bury a child. And we haven’t been able to give the family the gift of closure,” says Silent Witness Sergeant Jamie Rothschild. “As time goes on, tips can be the make or break a case… We want to ask the assailant’s family and friends, if they know something it’s important to come forward with that information.”
The bodies of two women were discovered strangled to death in a single story brick home in the 4200 block of East Cambridge Avenue, that Nicole had purchased in 2006.
They had last been seen alive the night before by Melissa Mason’s boyfriend. Both girls, who worked as bartenders, had sent text messages from their phones after Mellissa’s boyfriend had left.
There was no sign of forced entry, and nothing to indicate a violent struggle or fight before their deaths. The case turned into a triple homicide when it was discovered that Melissa was two months pregnant. Her boyfriend, the child's father, had attended a sonogram appointment with Melissa the day before they were killed.
Melissa’s boyfriend took and passed a polygraph examination and was cooperative in the investigation, according to police.
Neither of the girl’s boyfriends attended the candlelight vigil. Sadly, time has changed everything in the case, says Nicole’s mom.
“Everyone has moved on,” Rachel says, her eyes gleaming with tears.
At the time of her murder, Nicole was a junior at the University of Phoenix, pursuing a degree in communications. Nicole’s aunt, Amy Donaldson, who attended the vigil, recalls fond memories of her niece.
“She loved to tease. She was fun, happy go-lucky,” says Donaldson. “She just loved life and lived life to the fullest.”
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Because the girls were murdered during the Christmas season, Rachel Glass says the holidays have lost all joy.
“I used to love Christmas. It was my favorite time of the year. I don’t even decorate anymore. I’m dead in that compartment,” she says. “I can’t find any joy in the holiday. Maybe I will be able to when there is some closure.”
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Silent Witness at 480-948-6377.