Firefighters rushed to the scene of a burning car in a desert area outside Las Vegas, Nevada, December 2005. The authorities found a badly burnt body inside the car. Investigation Discovery’s ‘Murder Among Friends: Muscle Bound’ delves into how Melissa James was killed by her high-profile friends and once-couple, Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan. So, if you want to find out more about this case, we’ve got you covered.
How did Melissa James die?
Melissa Ann James was born March 1977 in New Jersey. She was born in Florida, where she was a dance instructor in jazz, hip-hop, and ballet. She opened her first dance school in Florida at age 19. Unfortunately, a bad deal ended her chances for success. Melissa moved to Las Vegas in 2005 for what seemed like a promising job. But by the end of that year, the 28-year-old’s dreams were shattered.
On December 14, 2005 there was a report of a fire at Las Vegas. Authorities found a car on fire. Once the fire was brought under control, they found Melissa’s dead body inside the trunk. Although the remains were badly charred, the autopsy revealed that Melissa’s body was inside the trunk. A bathrobe tie and wire were found around her neck. This suggests strangulation. Although the cause of her death was not determined, it was obvious that Melissa had been murdered.
Who Killed Melissa James
Kelly Ryan, a fitness enthusiast who has won competitions before, was recognized by the police because of the license plate. Craig Titus was a well-known celebrity trainer and bodybuilder at the time. Melissa met Craig in 2001. A few years later, Craig convinced Melissa to move to Las Vegas and help run a clothing shop. She eventually moved in to live with Craig and became close friends with him.
Kelly and Craig were immediately contacted by police. Kelly told the police that she didn’t know where her car was and believed Melissa had taken it with her. They claimed she was also stealing their money by using their credit cards and taking money from their accounts. It seemed that there was more to their story than they realized. Craig eventually told the police that he had an affair with Melissa, and Kelly didn’t know about it.
Kelly and Craig were initially let go because there wasn’t enough evidence to prove they were involved with Melissa’s disappearance. The couple left town after growing suspicion. According to Kelly’s friend, Megan Foley, the couple’s marriage was struggling, with Melissa’s move to their home causing a lot of friction. They also had a history with drug abuse.
Megan also told the police that she was at Kelly and Craig’s house when Melissa disappeared. She was supposed visit family in New Jersey on the 14th of December 2005, but she never made it. Megan claimed that Kelly told Megan how an argument between Melissa, and her, led to dangerous consequences. Megan claims that Kelly used a Taser gun to attack Melissa. Craig then attacked the 28-year old. Then, Megan alleged that Kelly told her about injecting Melissa with narcotics; an autopsy revealed a high of morphine inside Melissa’s system in addition to drugs.
Megan later spoke out about Craig gifting her a duffel bag containing fitness equipment and a Taser Gun. Furthermore, another friend of Craig’s said that Craig talked about seeing a girl flop after being hit by a Taser gun. The couple were eventually tracked down to Boston, Massachusetts. Kelly was taken into custody at a salon, while Craig was outside. The authorities believed that Melissa and Kelly had been in a fight that ended with the former’s death.
Surveillance footage captured at a Walmart showed Kelly purchasing lighter fluid and Craig helping her load them into the car that was eventually burned. Investigators believe this happened after Melissa was murdered. Anthony Gross, one of Craig’s friends, was seen close to the crime scene and was connected to a flashlight found by the burning vehicle. Craig later claimed that Kelly was attacking Melissa on the night of the crime scene.
Craig said, “My wife’s on the ground with Taser darts in her leg. There’s blood on her face and her shirt. Melissa’s standing there with the gun in her hand.” Then, he admitted to attacking and choking Melissa. Craig claimed that Melissa went into her bedroom while Melissa went upstairs after the fight ended. About 40 minutes later, he claimed Melissa had died. According to him, the young lady died from an overdose after Kelly and Melissa had been using drugs in the days before the incident.
Kelly Ryan and Craig Titus Where are They Today?
Craig said they panicked and tried to get rid of the evidence by burning Melissa’s body. Craig, then 43 years old, pleaded guilty to second degree murder, kidnapping and arson in May 2008. He was sentenced to between 21 and 55 years in prison. Prison records show that he is still at Lovelock Correctional Center in Pershing County. Kelly, then 35 years old, pleaded guilty arson and entered an Alford plea for battery with a deadly instrument. Kelly was sentenced to 6 to 26 years imprisonment. Kelly was released in October 2017 on parole after almost nine years behind bars. Kelly has remained low-profile and seems to still be living in Las Vegas.
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