MT. MORRIS, Ill. (WTVO) — Police say Melissa Lamesch, 27, and her unborn child were murdered on November 25th, 2020. Matthew Plote, 34, of Malta, has been accused of strangling her and then setting her house on fire to conceal the crime.

Karl Lamesch, Melissa’s brother, said he knew the moment he got a call from his father, that Melissa was missing, that his sister was gone. Although the charges against Plote are a relief for his family, Karl said they won’t bring her back.

“I just had this gut-wrenching feeling that something was wrong and I get this call from my dad,” he said. “He says, ‘have you heard from or seen Melissa?’ and I said, ‘no, I’ve been at work all day’ and he tells me the house is on fire and no one has heard from her or seen her, and right then, I knew, it was just something in my gut, that she was gone and I couldn’t feel her.”

Karl said Melissa was only days away from delivering her baby son, and the two of them had been redecorating a nursery.

“We ended up skyping each other and I helped her set up the nursery pictures in her room, and she was like ‘where do they go? help me figure out where they go,” he recalled.

The soon-to-be mom was on leave from her Emergency Medical Services job, and had just moved from a Chicago suburb to her childhood home in Mt. Morris.

“She did so much good and helped COVID patients and I’m sure saved a lot of lives and it’s sad to think she doesn’t have one now,” Karl said.

Karl said Plote was the child’s father.

Now, he says he wants her to be remembered for her life, not how it ended.

“I mean she just had one of those contagious smiles. I want people to remember her for the happy person she is, the good person she is and to have those memories and cherish them,” he said.

Plote is being held on a $10 million bond. If convicted of Lamesch’s murder, he faces up to life in prison.

If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.