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Family, police looking for missing Portage girl, 16

Melissa Rhone left work at a Chesterton thrift shop at 6 p.m. on March 21 with a friend and hasn’t been in contact with her family since then.

The Portage teen’s father, Mike Rhone, and aunt, Linda Rhone, are trying to piece together where she went and, more importantly, where she is now so they can find her and bring her home.

"It’s rough," said Mike Rhone. "It’s hard to sleep, with everything else. And telling the story 100 times, it gets old."

The family has been in contact with the Portage Police Department since the day after Melissa, 16, disappeared, and the department has assigned a detective to the case.

"Right now we’re still looking at everything so we can’t really comment," said Detective Kurt Biggs.

Mike Rhone said the owner of the thrift shop, a family acquaintance who lives nearby, saw Melissa get into her friend’s car and had offered to give the teen a ride home.

From what Mike Rhone and his sister, Linda Rhone of Gary, have been able to figure out, Melissa shut off her cellphone and deleted her Facebook account in the hours after she left work.

They also believe her friend dropped her off behind the Portage Wal-Mart, possibly to meet a boy, and at some point Melissa got $20 from a male acquaintance, they said.

Mike Rhone said he checked with Melissa’s cellphone service provider and there have been no calls, texts or other activity on the phone since about an hour after her friend picked her up from work.

The day Melissa, a freshman at Portage High School, disappeared, Mike Rhone said he and his daughter got into a fight about something she posted on Facebook.

She was supposed to get a ride home from her boss after work, he said, and face the consequences from their disagreement.

"She’s been mad at me before," Mike Rhone said, but she hasn’t run off, though when she was 13 and living with her mom in Rockport, she ran away for a day but was found by that night.

The family hopes that, with the help of the police and social media, they can locate Melissa and bring her home safely.

"It’s just a scary thought not knowing where she’s at," Linda Rhone said. "It would be one thing if we knew she was mad and at a friend’s (house)."

Mike Rhone said Melissa is 5 feet 2 inches or 5 feet 3 inches tall; weighs 115 to 120 pounds; has nose and navel rings; and blonde hair and blue eyes. Anyone who knows of Melissa’s whereabouts can contact Biggs at 219-764-5675.

Amy Lavalley is a freelance reporter for the Post-Tribune.