GREEN COUNTY, Wis. (WTVO) — It’s been nearly a year since a Monticello, Wisconsin woman went missing from a northern Illinois town, leaving her three children wondering what happened to her.
“My daughter was just looking at pictures of her mom the other night and (was) crying uncontrollably,” said Benny Affrunti, the father of two of Trumpy’s children, ages 9 and 7.
Affrunti said he knows there is nothing he can do to erase what his children are feeling. He can only comfort them as they grieve the loss of their mother, who was with them one day and gone the next.
But because Melissa hasn’t been found—dead or alive—grief has been a confusing process. There hasn’t been a funeral or anything to give the kids a semblance of closure. That is why their dad has turned to mental health professionals, who are playing a vital role in the healing process.
“(They) go to the kids’ school to give them in-school counseling,” Affrunti said.
Affrunti said his children’s close relationship with their half-sister, Melissa’s 15-year-old daughter from her previous marriage, has also been key in getting them all to find peace knowing their mom is likely never coming home.
“She is a great kid and an amazing sister,” he said.
Melissa Trumpy was last seen Tuesday, Oct. 26, in Shannon, Illinois, at the home of her on-again, off-again boyfriend, 35-year-old Derek Hammer, who authorities say was one of the last people to see her.
Affrunti believes Hammer, who is not a suspect in Melissa’s disappearance, may have information that could help the investigation.
Because Hammer hasn’t helped friends and family search for her, partly because he’s currently in jail, that hasn’t happened.
In April, Hammer was sentenced to 90 days in the Green County Jail after pleading guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct.
After he served that sentence, he was placed back into custody and remains jailed in Green County, awaiting trial on charges of felony gun possession, operating a drug house, and domestic abuse. Those charges were filed on Sept. 13, 2021, and involve Melissa Trumpy.
Trumpy was charged as a party to the drug offenses and was reportedly cooperating with police when she went missing.
Hammer is due back in court on Oct. 4. A jury trial in the drug case is set for Feb. 14, 2023. He also has pending cases in Stephenson County.
Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Melissa Trumpy is asked to call the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office at 815-244-2635. The Freeport Police Department is assisting in the investigation and can be reached at 815-235-8222.