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'She was so loving': Hollywood shooting mystifies those who knew victim

Bernie Melvin and his wife had spent hours in the silence of his daughter's studio apartment in the city where she had come to fulfill her dreams.

Her belongings were all still there: the photo of the blowfish from a trip to Maui, her cookbooks and the brown chair where her cat Fido loved to snuggle.

He knew that steps from the apartment was the spot where Carrie Melvin was shot and killed, and decided he had to go downstairs. He had to see where it happened. As he walked to the spot, he cried as rush-hour traffic whirred by on Sunset Boulevard.

On July 5 about 10 p.m., Carrie Melvin and her boyfriend were walking south on McCadden Place approaching Sunset when a man walked up from behind and shot Melvin, police said. The man then jumped into a dark-colored sedan and drove off. Melvin collapsed and died in her boyfriend's arms.

Police are still searching for the gunman and trying to piece together why someone would want to harm the 30-year-old, a gregarious transplant from Morro Bay.

"Nothing really jumps out," LAPD Det. John Skaggs said this week.

Carrie Melvin

The killing has mystified those who knew Melvin, a UC Santa Cruz film and literature graduate who had carved out a life for herself in L.A. with various jobs. She had started her own media management company, waited tables, bartended, worked in the film industry and occasionally served as a hair model.

She was the type of person, friends say, who could strike up a conversation with anyone. It's how she met Moses A. Hill in a Hollywood pizzeria on Halloween two years ago. Melvin, who had light brown hair, green eyes and a wide smile, was dressed in a red flapper costume. Hill said he complimented her outfit and the two began talking. Hill said he found himself drawn to Melvin's energy.

"She really just took life by the horns and made things happen," Hill said.

More recently, Melvin and her good friend Colette von were working on a project to teach children healthy eating habits, called Food Fiesta. Both Melvin and von had an interest in healthy eating and had recently done a six-week cleanse together. Melvin, von said, helped her get through the diet, which limited salt, oil, caffeine and alcohol.

On the day she was killed, Melvin had reached out to churches to see if they wanted to work with them on the Food Fiesta project.

"She wanted to help people and she wanted to make a difference," von said.

In recent years, von said, Melvin had become focused on her goals and would sometimes write them down or jot down inspirational quotes for motivation.

Melvin had written, "Be more interested than interesting," on the white board in her apartment. Always one for self-improvement, Melvin wanted to know how to be a better friend, and writing down the phrase helped her, von said.

"She had become really good at keeping her word," von said.

That proved true when Becca Russell, 33, got married two years ago. While other friends couldn't come to the wedding in Maui, Melvin made it a point to be there for her childhood friend — and even stayed a week to help out.

"She was so loving. And she was so loving to everybody," Russell said.

Russell said that hearing about Melvin's killing was devastating.

"There was nothing about Carrie that I would say was dangerous in any way," she said. "She stayed busy, worked hard."

And Melvin had street smarts too. When she moved to Los Angeles, she first lived in an apartment off Monroe Street in East Hollywood. Her father said she walked around and introduced herself to her neighbors. She made friends there.

"She knew they were going to watch her back," he said.

Bernie Melvin said he is comforted by the memory of his daughter telling him she loved her life and was the happiest she had ever been.

"I am so, so thankful she was with a man she loved, she worked that day and was probably happy and talking and using her hands," he said. "Thankfully, she did not feel a thing."

Anyone with information is asked to call LAPD's West Bureau homicide detectives at (213) 382-9470. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photos: (Top) The scene near Sunset Boulevard and McCadden Place, where Carrie Melvin was shot. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times. (Bottom) Carrie Melvin.

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