Melissa Brannen’s abductor to be released

See the article here: Melissa Brannen’s abductor, Caleb Hughes, will be freed from prison after 29 years.

Hughes was only convicted of abducting five-year-old Melissa Lee Brannen, not of killing her, though I’m sure he killed her as well. It’s just that they never found a body or other physical evidence of death, or any witness to a killing, or a confession.

There was some blood on tissues in Hughes’s car that was possibly Melissa’s, but forensic testing at the time could only narrow the source down to 40% of the population. The fiber evidence, as detailed in the casefile, was solid, but all it proved was that Melissa had been in Hughes’s car. If they had tried to get him for murder, he most likely would have been acquitted.

So he was sentenced to 50 years for the kidnapping, but barring some unforeseen event in the next four months, he will be set free after just 29 years.

And before you start railing against stupid parole boards, this is not the parole board’s fault. The parole board has tried their best to keep him behind bars; they denied him twice. What is going to happen with Hughes is mandatory release, not parole. Per WaPo:

Under Virginia law before the abolition of parole, there are four classes of “good conduct allowances.” For particularly exemplary prisoners, 30 days of credit is given for every 30 days served, meaning a prisoner could cut their sentence in half…

Hughes has been in custody since January 1990, meaning he will have served 29 years and seven months if he is released in August 2019. That is about 54 percent of his total 54-year sentence, meaning Hughes must have been classified as an exemplary prisoner for much of his term.

: he’s been an exemplary prisoner and accumulated enough “good time” credits that they have to let him go. The law says so.

And before you start shouting about how we have to change this stupid law: it’s already been changed. But the change can’t be applied retroactively.

So Hughes is getting out and there’s no help for it. He will, I hope, get registered as a sex offender anyway, though the article has not said so.

Where’s Melissa, Caleb? He has no incentive to tell us, because they could still get him for murder if her body is ever found.

5 thoughts on “Melissa Brannen’s abductor to be released

  1. Mia April 21, 2019 / 10:13 pm

    Lots of interesting Pennsylvania updates today, especially that mob guy and The Sparrow lady.

    • Meaghan April 21, 2019 / 10:16 pm

      The Sparrow woman story was very depressing. Whatever she saw in 1984, it wasn’t the Virgin Mary, and I wish someone had made her get psychiatric help. Her husband and sister obviously cared about her.

      I expect she died exactly the way she predicted she would.

  2. missingmysteries April 22, 2019 / 11:43 pm

    I’m sure this guy will love that his case is a frequent repeat of Forensic Files. I’ve seen it at least three times, and it keeps coming around. I understand the requirements of mandatory release, and while it really sucks in this case, it is what it is.

    Even if he’s not required to register as a sex offender, his history will come out no matter where in the USA he chooses to live. His neighbors will always shun him, he will always have difficulty in finding employment, and he deserves every bit of frustration he’s sure to suffer.

    One thing I wonder about this case is if a psych profile of him suggests that he’ll revisit her burial site once released. I suspect he might try to do so at some point. I hope law enforcement has the same idea and is willing/able to surveille him in some way to track this. There’s no stature of limitations on murder, and since he wasn’t tried for murder, he’s still susceptible to prosecution for murder if new evidence comes to light. I like to believe that local Pd in his release area will aggressively (but legally) stay on him in the hopes of resolving the murder of this little girl.

  3. Rose R May 11, 2019 / 3:35 am

    To MissingMysteries,

    Excellent idea you have regarding:

    >>”…if a psych profile of him suggests that he’ll revisit her burial site once released. I suspect he might try to do so at some point. I hope law enforcement has the same idea and is willing/able to surveille him in some way to track this.”<<

    I sure hope he is secretly monitored with 24 hr. surveillance, at least in the beginning, most likely that's when the itchy and anxious creep will strike…

  4. Nancy Drew July 5, 2019 / 10:04 pm

    I hope the memory of the life he took from Melissa haunts and eats up his mind.

    There may not be a body for him to go back and visit. Most likely he disposed of her in way to never be found like a in swamp of Crocs, pig farm, sex traffickers, etc. As he so arrogantly said to the investigators, “prove it” knowing there would be a slim chance of her ever being found.

    I am really surprised he made it through prison without getting taken out on the inside. Karma will find him and i know there is a special place in Hell awaiting his arrival!

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