New evidence found in Vero Beach cold case

Posted at 10:50 PM, May 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-15 07:39:35-04

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. -- Detectives with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office have made a big discovery that could bring them closer to closing a decades-old cold case.

Mary Ellen Wise was abducted and murdered in November, 1992.

23-years later, detectives have found the car she was abducted in nearly 1000 miles away, hoping DNA from her killer may still be inside.

The car is sitting inside the Indian River County Forensic Services building, where detectives have already processed the car and sent potential DNA evidence off to a lab to be processed. It could take a couple months to get back any results.

Mary Ellen’s sister, Sharon Correa, still thinks about the day her sister was taken every day.

“Monday, November 2nd, 1992,” Correa said. 

Correa still lives in the home where Mary Ellen was abducted.

“Mary Ellen was doing the laundry that morning. Right here,” Correa said. “She was abducted right from this house,” Correa said, while she was doing that laundry.

Correa described Mary Ellen was abducted in her own car. “They went clear up to Melbourne to a bank, to an ATM,” Correa said. Then, Correa said Wise was forced to take money out of a bank closer to their home and write a check. 

Correa thinks someone thought she had access to money that she didn’t have.

“He, I mean, brutally murdered her,” Correa said.

Mary Ellen was reported missing for nearly a week. “I sat by that phone for 6 days, waiting,” Correa said. 

Her body was later found in a field in St. Lucie County.

Wise's car was found shortly after the crime, but forensic technology at the time was limited. Detectives kept the car for about a month, but no useful evidence was found at the time.

The car was given back to family in Pennsylvania, and eventually sold.

“I never thought I would see that car again,” Correa said.

Detectives, determined to crack the case, recently decided to see if they could track the car down again.

To their surprise, the car was still in tact in a junk yard in Pennsylvania. Detectives went to Pennsylvania to recover the car, and bring it back to Indian River County.

“All be it 24 years, there’s a lot of stories to be told about this automobile,” said Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar. “We know for a fact that there is physical evidence in this car that is going to help us conclude this case.”

Loar says it’s very likely there is evidence in the car that was overlooked decades ago.

Now, potential hair, finger prints or blood will be subject to testing with newer technology, more capable of making a DNA match to the killer.

Correa says the last few years have been extremely promising for the case. The discovery of the car is just one more step closer to closure that she’s never doubted she would receive.

“I believe in Karma,” Correa said. “If we can place who was in that vehicle, that’s big and important news."

Correa says she has also purposely kept the home where Mary Ellen was abducted and the same phone number should that murderer come back around.

Detectives believe the killer still lives in Vero Beach.