Scholarship created in honor of Stark County family killed in murder-suicide


From left to right: Melissa, Renee, Amber and Evan Dunham.
From left to right: Melissa, Renee, Amber and Evan Dunham.
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In August of 2023, a tragedy rocked the Hartville and Lake Township communities. The lives of Melissa Murphy Dunham and her three children Renee, Amber, and Evan died in a murder-suicide.

Their lives cut short by Melissa’s husband, and the father of the three children. The surviving family members have been grappling with the unspeakable aftermath ever since. One goal, from the onset, was a desire to establish a scholarship in memory of Melissa, Renee, Amber, and Evan.

“We want to honor them, and the impact their lives made on those around them. It is our hope this scholarship will be a way to keep contributing to this community as they would have,” said Melissa’s sister Valerie Murphy-Daugherty. “We want to give others a chance to continue the positive impact of paying it forward as Melissa taught not only her children but everyone around her.”

The Lake Community Hope Scholarship in Memory of Melissa, Renee, Amber, and Evan is being managed through The Stark Community Foundation. This fund is dedicated to supporting the Lake Local Schools; the district they all cherished, attended, and actively participated in. This fund will provide annual scholarship assistance to graduating seniors from Lake High School who have demonstrated exceptional engagement in extracurricular activities and community service beyond school – a true reflection of the values Melissa instilled in her children from an early age. The first scholarship will be available to seniors graduating in 2025. The application process will begin in December 2024.

To help support the family’s quest to honor their loved ones, please consider donating to the scholarship fund. Donating can be done by visiting the Stark Community Foundation website at