Melissa Stromek

26 Years Old

November 10, 1977 to January 3, 2004

Melissa was a young woman who had accomplished so much in her short life, and yet she was on the brink of so much more.

She was a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Geology from Northern Illinois University, and was working for Pollution Control Industries disposing of hazardous wastes and explosives. She was one of only five people in the country (and the only woman) certified for her position. Her job called for her to travel, which she loved. She traveled all over the country. She was also so proud to have recently purchased her first property. She bought a condo, close to her family, which she was decorating with pride. Melissa had worked hard and was finally getting to enjoy so many things in her life.

She had many close friends, some from her early childhood and many from college. They took vacations together and enjoyed many fun times. Melissa liked to mountain bike, rollerblade, paintball, and had recently taken up kickboxing. Being a Geologist, Melissa was interested in various rocks. She acquired rocks from each vacation, and had an extensive collection. She was a very active person, and always ready for a new experience. She was the one who made anything fun, even if it was supposed to be work. She once helped put a new roof on a friend’s house. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for the people she cared about.

Melissa’s family life was positive as well. She enjoyed many shared interests with her mother, such as, holistic therapies and alternative medicine. She was close with her father, too. He was helping her with repairs and improvements on her condo. Her older sister considered her as much a friend as a sister. She was also a devoted aunt to her sister’s two sons. She enjoyed spending time with them and would often call requesting to “take them out” for a day when she was missing them. Family was important to Melissa. She was always generous with her time for them. She would cut her parent's lawn, and visit with her grandmother. She helped her sister hang wallpaper for the nursery when her first nephew was born.

And she was looking toward the future, too. She was researching opportunities and alternative careers. She was 26 years old and thought she would someday raise a family of her own. She knew the job she had, fulfilling as it was, wasn’t conducive to raising a family. She was considering careers in teaching, or massage therapy. She wasn’t afraid to go back to school, or to start anew. She was always up for a challenge.

She was generous and kind, loving and supportive, fun and spontaneous, thoughtful and sensitive, beautiful and vibrant, strong and intelligent….She was everything to so many people. She is loved and missed.


On New Year’s Day of 2004, Melissa Stromek came home from a party at a hotel in downtown Chicago which she attended with close friends. She was supposed to meet one of those friends later that day to take an out-of-town trip. She never showed up for that trip. Friends began to worry about her because they knew she was trying to break away from her ex-boyfriend, Viliulfo Escobar. On January 3rd, Melissa’s parents entered her condo to check if she had been there recently and found her body. She had been stabbed to death.

Viliulfo Escobar fled the country to avoid arrest. Melissa’s family continue to hope that the police and US Marshals will be able to arrest and extradite him to the United States so that justice can be served.

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Melissa Stromek