CHATSWORTH—The Missouri State Highway Patrol continues to investigate the mysterious death of a former N’West Iowa woman.
More than six months have passed since Melissa Ann (Renken) Peskey, a former Chatsworth resident, was shot and killed on Dec. 13 in the middle of the Show Me State.
Melissa, a 40-year-old rural Hartford, SD, real estate agent, was discovered deceased in the driver’s seat of a sport utility vehicle — with her two children in the back seat — on a rural stretch of Interstate 70 near the small central Missouri city of Boonville.
Since the investigation into the case began, the highway patrol has received about 160 leads, but has made no arrests in connection to Melissa’s death.
“There hasn’t been an influx of leads in the last couple of months,” said highway patrol Sgt. Scott White. “There haven’t been any significant developments, but this is by no means a cold case.”
Melissa was the mother of a daughter named Charlee and a son named Axton, who were 11 and 5, respectively, at the time of the shooting. They had been traveling together to South Carolina to visit friends.
The highway patrol is investigating what happened to Melissa — who was born in Akron, raised in Chatsworth and graduated in 1996 from West Sioux High School in Hawarden — as a homicide.
“We have been in contact with the family and keeping them updated,” White said.
Krista Renken of Rock Valley, one of Melissa’s younger sisters, said her family wants to keep encouraging people to come forward with any information that might help determine the identity of Melissa’s killer.
“We ask for continued prayers as we all wait for the answers we so greatly deserve,” Krista said.
At about 10:30 p.m. Dec. 13, troopers responded to a single-vehicle traffic crash on I-70 just west of Boonville and discovered Melissa’s Ford Flex.
According to the highway patrol, Melissa and her children had been traveling east on the interstate when her SUV crashed in western Cooper County.
White said the vehicle traveled across I-70’s median through metal cables before crashing in the ditch alongside the interstate’s west lanes.
However, as the highway patrol’s investigation developed, it became apparent to law enforcement that Melissa had not died as a result of the crash.
Evidence found at the scene and an autopsy performed on Melissa in Columbia, MO, indicated that she died of a gunshot wound caused by a weapon fired from outside the SUV.
The highway patrol has not said when the gunshot occurred — whether it was fired before or after the vehicle crashed — because of the ongoing investigation.
Law enforcement also has not revealed where on her body Melissa was shot, what kind of firearm was used and whether her SUV was moving at the time the shooting occurred.
“They’re still looking at a lot of information,” White said. “They’re examining physical evidence, digital evidence. Our investigators have a lot to work on.”