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Character Profile – Sheriff Melissa ‘Mel’ Crane

Melissa Raye Crane is the imaginary county Sheriff of the very real Muskingum County, Ohio. She bears no resemblance whatsoever to the current Sheriff of the county or to any of the Sheriffs that preceded him. Melissa prefers to be called ‘Mel’. She’s tall for a woman at about 5′ 10″, broad shouldered and physically fit. She has short dark hair that she sometimes wears a little spiked and deep brown eyes.

Mel is 35 and the older (by minutes) of a set of identical twin girls, the only children of Faye and Jesse Crane. Mel’s slightly younger sister is Karissa ‘Kris’ Crane. Their birthday is in July.

Mel and her sister Kris live in the old family home of their grandparents who are now deceased. The house is located in the tiny fictional village of Morelville, Ohio which is named after the morel mushrooms that grow so abundantly around there in the dampness of a good spring. The village is home to approximately 500 people who live in the village proper. There’s a store, a pizza shop, a post office and a gas station in town. Kris is the afternoon/evening shift manager at the gas station. Kris’s children, Cole age 15 and Beth age 13 live with she and Mel. Their father is not in the picture.

Dad/Grandpa Jesse Crane is a farmer who runs a small family farm a with enough grazing land to keep a herd of about 40 longhorn cattle happy. Longhorn aren’t common in Ohio or, really, anywhere in the Midwest or the East so he does a neat bit of business breeding his cows and selling their calves. They also raise some hogs and chickens but mostly for family consumption. Jesse does hog butchering and hog roasts for others in the area. He also hunts. Mom/Grandma Faye Crane tends to massive gardens and fruit trees spring through fall and cooks, cans and freezes food with abandon. Kris’s children spend most of the summer with their grandparents raising livestock to show at the late August Muskingum County Fair.

Mel joined the Sheriff’s department as a dispatcher not long after graduating from high school. She worked as a dispatcher until after she turned 21. Once she was 21, she was called on a lot to assist with the searching and processing of arrested females since there were few female deputies in the department. The Sheriff then, the completely fictional Caden Carter, convinced Mel to go to the Ohio Peace Officers Training Academy to become a deputy upon graduation. Like all new Sheriff’s Deputies, Mel then put in a couple of years as a jailer in the county jail before going out on patrol and on other law enforcement assignments.

Mel realized she was gay when she was in high school. Living in such a small village and having exposure only to the small city of Zanesville (a real city used fictionally in my stories), she didn’t have a lot of opportunities to meet like minded women. Instead, she threw herself into her work and excelled at patrol and at investigations. She moved up through the ranks of the department very quickly. When the elected Sheriff Carter was killed in a botched drug raid when Mel was 34, she was appointed as the Sheriff to fill out the balance of his term. She’s a good Sheriff but she prefers on the ground police work to pushing paper and playing local politics.

Mel never expected to meet a woman she could fall in love with. She never expected to meet someone like Customs Special Agent Dana Rossi.