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Scotsman.com: Murder case exercises bodybuilders

A piece from Scotsman.com.

Murder case exercises bodybuilders

IN DECEMBER 2005, a truck driver travelling from the desert town of Pahrump to Las Vegas spotted a burned-out car near State Route 160. The remains of a woman were found in the trunk, and thus began one of the most sensational murder cases in the US, one that has swept the odd, hermetically sealed sport of bodybuilding into national consciousness.

DNA tests established that the victim was Melissa James, a 28-year-old dance instructor from Florida, who had moved to Las Vegas as a live-in personal assistant to Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan, bodybuilding’s golden couple, a kind of Posh and Pecs of the muscle game.

He was the bad boy of the men’s sport, a Mr Olympia finalist who had done time for dealing steroids; Ryan was simply the finest fitness athlete of her generation.

Rumours of the couple’s involvement in a suspicious death spread on internet sites, and they fled by car to Boston intending to liquidate what assets they could, and to fly to Greece. Ryan was arrested in a nail bar, and Titus was waiting in the parking lot.

Their flight caught the eye of the media, with headlines such as “Bodybuilding’s Bonnie and Clyde” and “The Muscle Murderers”. Two court appearances went out live on TV, and their OJ-style escape and extraordinary appearances and lifestyle turned the case into a cause celebre.

In March, they will face charges of murder and arson: both have pleaded not guilty. The indictment alleges that Titus was having a secret affair with Melissa James, and during his year in jail awaiting trial, he was implicated in a plot to kill two prosecution witnesses. The world of bodybuilding is braced for revelations about the party-hard lifestyle of the sport’s beautiful freaks.

The defendants are allowed weekly phone calls and have seen each other just twice, in court. At their last appearance, TV captured Titus mouthing to Ryan: “Don’t say anything.”

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