Melanie Schall worked across the street from Jamie Lynn Stickle and saw her every day when Stickle tended bar for several Liberty Avenue gay establishments Downtown. On Feb. 8, Schall and Stickle's other friends and co-workers will hold a candlelight vigil and a fund-raising party to mark two years since Stickle was found dead from fire in her Jeep outside her North Side apartment.
The group will also be petitioning County Coroner Cyril Wecht to investigate her death. They may even approach the state's new attorney general or the governor. "Ed Rendell, when he was running for governor, was all over these bars Downtown," Schall notes. The group has particular hope that Wecht, with his involvement in many national cases, can solve this one in his backyard.
"We're looking to generate 100-200 letters, fill up his mailbox, kind of annoy him," she says. But coroner's office officials have long said that their hands are tied by the law: Until the cause of the Jeep fire is determined, there isn't even officially a crime.
Pittsburgh homicide detectives have been investigating Stickle's death as an unofficial homicide (see CP cover story: "A Death in the Family," March 12, 2003). They could not be reached for comment by press time.
"If this were a crime," Schall says, "we could get money from Crimestoppers. There could be billboards." The group has in fact raised $18,000, but as reward money that cannot be touched until Stickle's murder is solved.
Stickle suffered a fractured skull on Feb. 8, 2002, the coroner's report noted, but that was due only to the fire. "...[S]ome artifacts such as: makeup, money and a can of MACE was [sic] found several feet from the vehicle, in front of the locked door to the residence," the report continues. "A trail of blood was also noted leading from the door of the residence, to the drivers [sic] side door of the vehicle."
Schall voices the same frustration expressed by many who knew Stickle and are aware of this report: "They tried to say she had a fractured skull because of the fire ... but there was ... blood all over the place. She used to stuff her money in her bra. She locked her purse up" when she worked at the bar. "Apparently there was enough of a struggle that money was laying on the ground."