A friend remembers the life of Hope Melton - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

A friend remembers the life of Hope Melton

Hope Melton Hope Melton
Nickolas Jermaine Miller Nickolas Jermaine Miller

It has almost been one year since Beverly Hope Melton's life was tragically taken. Melton walked into a convenience store in Chesterfield County, and when she walked out, she was chased down, brutalized, and killed by a man she never knew.   

That man, 24-year-old Nickolas Miller has been in jail since he was arrested last year. He is facing the death penalty.

It was the day after Christmas. Melton had the entire week off from work at the T & T Country Stop in McBee.

"She was all around a great person," said Hope's friend Kailey Tolbert. "The kind of person that's rare to find that's why I was so glad I got to meet her."

Tolbert met Hope Melton at the T & T Country Stop more than 10 years ago.

"She might not have known that, but I definitely care about what she thought about me and I definitely looked at how she acted and carried herself. She was definitely someone I looked up to," said Tolbert.

Tolbert describes Hope as a devout Christian. Someone who always saw the best in people.

"She was just a pillar of the community, really," said Tolbert. "Everyone that met her fell in love with her."

On Dec. 26, 2011 Hope Melton stopped to get gas in Chesterfield County. Surveillance video of her walking into the convenience store, is the last time she was seen alive.

"There's Hope smiling as always dressed up looking pretty, going to hang out with her grandparents," said Tolbert.

"And then I saw Miller coming in behind her and I thought, 'Wow, he doesn't even know her. Why is he going off to do that.'"

When Hope gets in her car and drives off, investigators say Miller follows her, runs her off the road, kidnaps, rapes, beats her to death with a baseball bat, and hen leaves her body behind a barn.

"I got a phone call saying they found her body, and I went hysterical," said Tolbert.

Investigators say there was no rhyme or reason why Miller targeted Melton. Her family and friends are still asking why.

"Why did you do that? Did you just want to throw your life away? Did you just want to cause pain? What happened in your life that made you do this," said Tolbert.

Recently the Fifth Circuit Solicitor has decided to seek the death penalty.

"Looking at how much pain he put Hope through, a lot of people feel he should go through the same thing she did," said Tolbert.

"It was so malicious and so evil and I think his life needs to be taken from him," said Tolbert. "Really I do."

It's not an easy decision to want to end someone's life, but Tolbert says everyday she thinks about the life her best friend is no longer living.

"She's one of those people that's so rare to find," said Tolbert. "She'll never be able to be replaced."

To Tolbert, Melton is a void that will never be filled.

"Not a day goes by that I don't think about you," said Tolbert. "I miss you. It's going to be a tough Christmas. I'm actually dreading Christmas. It's just not going to be the same."

"If I could tell her anything I would say - I miss you girl. I miss you everyday and you were one of my best friends. I hope I can see you again one day in heaven because I know that's where you're at."

No court date has been set for Nickolas Miller. In April, family and friends of Hope Melton are holding a walk to raise awareness of violence against woman.

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