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Hinckley Police Chief Missing, Car Found

August 6, 1985 GMT

HINCKLEY, Ohio (AP) _ Hinckley Township Police Chief Mel L. Wiley was proud of the detective stories he wrote. Now he has become the central character in a new mystery - his own disappearance.

Wiley, 47, was last seen July 27 by a friend, and his car was found at a Cleveland lakefront park three days later.

Medina police Detective James R. Bigam said he believes Wiley may have staged his own disappearance, but possible motives for that remain unclear.

Bigam, who once worked with Wiley in the Medina County sheriff’s office, is heading the investigation because Wiley is a resident of Medina, just south of Cleveland.

He said Wiley served in Army Intelligence and ″would be very capable of disappearing if that’s what he wanted to do.″

Bigam said investigators have been unable to determine why Wiley, described by acquaintances as a loner, might have wanted to disappear. He said evidence does not indicate that Wiley was a victim of foul play or that he committed suicide.

″He was quiet and easygoing,″ Bigam said. ″He stuck to himself, although he was personable. He was a meticulous writer and very proud of his short stories, poems and detective stories.″

The Akron Beacon Journal quoted one source as saying Wiley had told his ex- wife he wanted to move to California to work on his stories.

Bigam said the possibility that Wiley staged the affair emerged as ″the strongest possibility″ after other theories were discounted, although not officially.

Wiley’s locked car was found July 30 at Edgewater Park on Lake Erie on Cleveland’s west side. A shirt, trousers, belt, shoes and socks were found inside, along with Wiley’s wallet containing $15 in cash, credit cards and his police identification and badge. The park and the lake were searched.

Bigam said Wiley rarely went into the sun and was not a swimmer, which makes the prospect that he drowned in Lake Erie while swimming unlikely.

He said there was no indication that Wiley ever went swimming there, although a girlfriend told police that he was to meet an unnamed friend at the park and go swimming there.

Wiley joined the sheriff’s department in 1966. He left in late 1976, then joined the Hinckley department in 1978 as a lieutenant and became chief in 1982. He worked as a reporter for the Medina County Gazette in 1965.