No answers for the family of Melissa Peskey


ROCK VALLEY, Iowa (KELO) — It’s been four months since the interstate killing of Sioux Falls realtor Melissa Peskey.

Our KELOLAND investigation first broke the story of Melissa being shot on her cross-country trip with her children back in December.

Her family is anxiously awaiting answers from Missouri investigators.

Thursday night they give KELOLAND Investigates more insight into what was going on when Melissa left the state.

It would be an understatement to say the Renken women are close. Renken is Melissa Peskey’s maiden name.

Her sisters Kara and Jessica had heart-to-heart conversations with her before she left Sioux Falls on December 13.

“The last conversation we had, it was very intense. And it really gave me reason; I was scared for her. It really made me think and then when this happened, it really made me think,” Jessica Renken said.

Melissa’s mom Ellen, and sister, Kara, both helped Melissa pack up herself and her two children.

“I knew she was going someplace. She said, ‘I don’t want to tell you, but I’m going to a good place,'” Ellen Renken said.

Peskey was heading to South Carolina. But her family says it was not for a vacation; that she was leaving her husband Ryan.

“I didn’t want us all getting phone calls saying where my wife and my kids are. So I said leave him a note,” Kara Renken said.  

Angela Kennecke: Were you worried about her?
Ellen Renken: I was; she really had… she acted like she was scared; nervous, high anxiety. She just didn’t act normal. 

The Renken women are careful to point out that they are not accusing Melissa’s husband, Ryan Peskey, of killing her.

Ryan did tell KELOLAND Investigates after Melissa was shot, that he had been told by investigators he was a person of interest in his wife’s death.

However, Ryan Peskey is not facing any charges. Melissa’s sisters and mother say they just knew the marriage was troubled.

Well every marriage has problems, you know. So I talked to both of them. I was trying to see both sides,” Ellen Renken said.

They wanted to support Melissa by helping her leave the situation.

“The better memory is laughing and hugging when she left. We laughed, we hugged. I probably out of all of us got the better goodbye,” Kara Renken said.

Kara was on the phone with her sister while she drove down Interstate 70 by Booneville, MO. Melissa told her it was raining, a semi was in the ditch and another car was swerving all over the road.

Kara Renken: Then she said, ‘Just a minute honey, I’m going to put the phone down, so that way she could get around the car and we started talking again and it wasn’t 2-3 minutes later and she stopped talking. 

Angela Kennecke: That 10:23 time, you think you were actually on the phone with her?
Kara Renken: Uh-huh; there was nothing and I stayed on the phone and was yelling and yelling and she wasn’t answering.
Kennecke: But you didn’t hear a car crash or a gun shot or anything like that?
Kara Renken: Nuh-uh; which is why I was confused when they told me she was shot. She didn’t scream; she didn’t yell.

“Then I get that knock on the door in the middle of the night. It’s like,’ Oh my God!’ And I couldn’t believe it. It was her and she had been killed,” Ellen Renken said.

Jessica says the children, who were sleeping in the back, came away with barely a scratch.

Angela Kennecke: The kids are not a clue, they’re not a help to investigators.
Jessica Renken: No, not really. I wouldn’t think so. If anything it was noises they heard from the accident. 

While the children may not have seen anything, Missouri State Patrol investigators say they are continuing to follow up on the 140 leads that have come in on the case.

“Those leads include talking to family members and friends,” Missouri State Patrol Sergeant Scott White said.

Angeka Kennecke: But they’ve interviewed all the family members?
Ellen Renken: No, no, nuh-uh; I haven’t talked to one at all. They have never, never. 

Kara says she is the only one from Melissa’s family who has spoken to them.

“Many of the leads we have followed up on have been outside of Missouri and a lot of that is building a timeline up to when she was killed on I-70,” Sergeant White said.

Angela Kennecke: Do you believe it was random?
Ellen Renken:  I don’t know. But I just have this gut feeling; something is just wrong there.

Investigators say they don’t believe the public is in danger.

“We have reached out to several other agencies who have had shootings occur on the highway and right now there are no factors that link this case to those cases. But that’s something we’ve checked into and right now there’s no evidence of that,” Sgt. White said.

Meanwhile Melissa’s family waits and wonders.

Angela Kennecke: What is your biggest question?
Ellen Renken:  Why, why her? Why would you do something like that?

“They took my best friend from me. I need to know who did that to her. And why they would do such a thing to her,” Kara Renken said.

“One thing you cannot do in these homicide investigations is rush it. If we have to be patient, we’ll need to be to get to the bottom of what happened,” Sgt. White said.

“You don’t get any kind of peace about it. You don’t get any closure. You don’t get to just move on,” Kara Renken said.

Melissa’s sister and mother say the one thing that’s helping them cope is spending time with her two children.

Ryan Peskey was invited to take part in this interview, but declined. 

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