On May 12 of last year, a 22-year-old woman named Melanie Colon was found shot to death in Juniata Park. The same week, a 52-year-old woman named Lavonne Thrones-Johnson was discovered beaten to death in her apartment. Both were brutal murders of women from North Philly. Both were missed by family members who raised the alarm. Both cases remain unsolved and under investigation by police. But Colon’s case over the subsequent eight months has been the subject of features in the Inquirer, Daily News, Metro, CBS 3 and WHYY among others. Johnson’s death ranked seven sentences in the Daily News crime blotter.
Unfortunately, not every murder victim can have an advocate as tireless as Melanie Colon’s kid brother. Ralphiee Colon, 18 and still in high school, is leaving no media outlet uncalled, no flier unposted in hopes that someone, somewhere, knows something. A Facebook page he made for Melanie has nearly 7,000 likes.
“I just don’t want her case to get cold,” he says. “I think me talking about it a lot will make someone talk. … Someone killed my sister. She didn’t take a gun and shoot herself six times. I’m going to find out who. Until we get justice, I can’t stop.”
Melanie was last seen with a friend, Reynaldo Torres; Torres has not been seen since. In a city where the homicide clearance rate is 70 percent, and many unsolved cases fade away in silence, Ralphiee says he has no choice but to keep making noise. Next up: Love Park on Feb. 14 for an anti-violence event with One Billion Rising. To Ralphiee, this kind of tenacity just makes sense. He’s befriended the similarly outspoken family of Franchesca Alvarado, a North Philly woman who’s been missing since March. He hopes other victims’ families will follow their lead.
“If someone meant so much to you and something like this happened to them, keep fighting.”