Last night on CBS’ 48 Hours Mystery, the show featured the high profile murder case of fitness champs Craig Titus and his wife Kelly Ryan. The show featured the defense attorneys of the couple, Marc Saggese and Mike Cristalli, who discussed the case that brought them to the national spotlight a few year ago.
On December 14, 2005, a charred body inside the burnt car of Kelly Ryan was found in the Las Vegas desert. Police initially thought it was Ryan’s body but were surprised when they found her in her home safe. Authorities discovered that it was their live-in assistant’s body, Melissa James, and other evidence led to the couple being charged with murder. Titus pleaded guilty to non-premeditated second-degree murder, kidnapping and arson, and was sentenced to 21 to 55 years in prison. On the other hand, Ryan is facing 6 to 26 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of arson and battery with a deadly weapon.
The couple and their assistant all lived a life of partying and drugs. According to Titus, they did not burn her alive. James had overdosed on drugs and were scared to report the death to authorities, deciding instead to burn her corpse with Ryan’s vehicle. Before she OD’d, Titus arrived in their house with Ryan and James fighting. They had been asking the assistant to leave their home early on, but she refused. Titus, protecting his wife after James used a taser, slammed the latter to a wall. James just ran to her room where the couple found her later unconscious with a bag of drug needles. Unaware of what caused her death, they decided to burn her body instead calling the police.
In a 48 HOURS MYSTERY exclusive, family, friends, detectives and witnesses each provide their take in this story. For the first time, Titus shares his side of what happened the night James died. At the moment, Titus’ legal counsel is pursuing all means to minimize his sentence to 17 years in prison.