Twenty-two years after her daughter’s brutal murder, Gail Chilton isn’t giving up her fight for justice.
“This is not the end for me,” Chilton said. “It’s not over.”
On Friday, the state dropped charges against Patrick Streater–the main suspect in the 1996 stabbing deaths of Melissa Chilton and Tiffany Campbell at an exotic tanning parlor.
Both victims were only 18 years old.
“There’s nothing else I can say or do,” Chilton said. “It is what it is.”
The district attorney’s released this statement saying in part:
Since the return of Indictment in this case, testing of evidence has continued. The DA’s Office has tested evidence with the most advanced scientific testing and DNA analysis of any case our Office has handled.
Advancements in science and superseding reports have led to the decision that it would not be appropriate to take this matter to trial at this time. We also do not believe it is appropriate for criminal charges to be pending against the (defendant) in light of the current state of evidence.
Patrick Streater’s attorney Kyle Mothershead sent this statement to News 2 in response to charges being dropped:
Today the State dropped the prosecution in the Patrick Streater case,” said Kyle Mothershead.
The case against Patrick had been falling apart for years, culminating with high-end DNA testing conducted this spring that both exonerated Patrick and implicated an unidentified man.
We appreciate the hard work of the Davidson County District Attorney’s Office in seeking justice
in this case, and we admire the grace with which Gail Chilton has endured this process. It is unfortunate that the Metro Nashville Police Department rushed to judgment early on, accusing Patrick before the investigation was complete. Patrick spent two and a half years in the Davidson County jail for murders he did not commit – we hope that MNPD can learn some humility from this tragic mistake.
For his part, Patrick will focus on reconnecting with his children, building a career, and helping young people make the right choices in life. He is grateful justice was ultimately done in his case, and that he will finally be able to move on with his life.
Chilton said she’s still hopeful, she’ll get answers.
“I know it will be solved one day,” Chilton said. “I just know it. How and when I don’t know, but I got faith.”
A few times a week she sits in the Children’s Memorial Garden at Centennial Park where a walkway is engraved with the names of children and teens who were murdered.
“Their names are put in stones here,” she said. “Every year, we add more names.”
Now, the mother said she’s focusing on making peace with the situation and trying to forgive.
“You can’t carry that hatred for long,” Chilton said. “It’ll destroy you.”