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FIRE IN THE DESERT Book available on amazon.com

From Amazon.com:
Book Description

fire in the desert
Fire in the Desert: The True Story of the Craig Titus-Kelly Ryan Murder Mystery

On the morning of December 14, 2005, Las Vegas police and firefighters were called to the desert outside of Las Vegas. A 2003 Jaguar was in flames, and inside the trunk of the vehicle was the badly burned body of a young Las Vegas woman named Melissa James. The 28-year-old had suffered a horrifying fate — she was restrained, her face was covered with duct-tape, and she was set on fire.

The disturbing discovery prompted a massive police investigation, and within hours, detectives were standing at the front doorstep of two of the nation’s most recognized fitness celebrities — Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan.

Titus is a past place finisher in the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition, and his antics appropriately earned him the nickname the “Bad Boy of Bodybuilding.” Meanwhile, his elegant wife, Ryan, is widely recognized as one of the premier womens’ fitness competitors in the country.

But within the week, the two would be known as something else: murder suspects in the death of James, who was their live-in personal assistant.

* Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter and true crime author Glenn Puit has the inside scoop on the evidence gathered by Las Vegas police against the couple.

* Fire in the Desert serves as an evidentiary handbook for those following the case, providing a detailed legal analysis by Las Vegas courtroom experts.

* The book offers an independent examination of the fitness couple’s sordid lifestyle, their actions before and after their personal assistant was found dead.

About the Author
Glenn Puit covers the criminal justice system in Las Vegas for the Review-Journal. He was the first reporter in the nation to document the identity of John Doe #2 in the Oklahoma City bombing while working as a reporter in Florence, South Carolina.

He is also the author of Witch: The True Story of Las Vegas’ Most Notorious Female Killer (Berkley True Crime)

46 Responses to “FIRE IN THE DESERT Book available on amazon.com”

  1. Kamali Fan Says:


    Florence, SC is the Armpit of the South.

    The Flo Mo…

    But… I’ll still buy the book.

  2. Sharon` Says:

    Please send me the book…….

  3. Chainsaw Says:

    Bought the book. It is informative.

  4. Chainsaw Says:

    I have read 3/4 of the book in about 3hrs. It is impossible to determine what went on because CT is the kind of guy that seems to boast alot about being a tough guy since he is so insecure. If and I say if MJ OD”d, it would not phase me if CT said that he killed her just to be Mr. Tough guy.

    CT said that he used to burn cars for insurance money in C.A for people for $$$.that is why her burned the Jag, probably for $$$.

    Their stories changed so much from the 1st to 2nd, and all the witnesses seemed generally concerned for CT. One in particular thinks it was all KR freaking out. Actually, 2 of them. They were CT’s closest friends.

    Big DEVELOPEMENT THOUGH: CRaig from what I understand was giving MJ money not telling KR. For what? Christmas presents for her family. Doesn’t really sound like he was the killer, but as I said, CT was scared of everyone, trusted no one, so he boasted alot of B.S.. Not just about MJ’s death but with everything even stuff not related. Craig got a charge out of being attached to the underworld. All the witnesses sounded coherent, and none said anything terribly bad about CT or KR. They could see the good in these people, through all the dope.

    It is obvious that the dope really took effect in Oct 05. Thats when MJ and Amanda Polk came into CT lives. I think they were trying to get people around them that could help them snap out of their nosedive, but it didn’t work. They didn’t have the strength.

    Big developement in it Though, CT was giving $$$ to MJ, perhaps for drugs as well as Xmas presents, he didn’t tell KR. KR thought that MJ was stealing from them, CT was too much of a pansey to say he gave her the cash, and when MJ found she had to go home, she either OD”d from depression, or KR snapped and killed her, and CT had to go along with it since KR is his wife and never confessed to giving MJ the money to KR.

    Truely a sad story. Anyway you chalk it up.

    Six monacetyl morphine, that will play a big part. Not, Nubain is not a morphine derivative that will show in the blood as that. Not even bottled pure hospital morphine. ONLY HEROIN PERIOD. That is all Saggase has to go one, there are so much conflicting stories.

  5. Mike Says:

    Why is there a book about this story when it isn’t over yet?

  6. Administrator Says:

    Mike - this book presents the timeline, witness statements and other information in one place. It isn’t place guilt or innocence on the accused it is providing those following the case with insight and information we hadn’t seen before.

  7. MB Says:

    I hope melissa’s family get’s some money out of this book….after all if it wasn’t for her the book won’t be written!!! rip melissa!!!!

  8. Disgusted Says:

    Although I won’t be purchasing the book I see that most of the comments regarding the book indicate that the content is Craig’s attitude up to the poit of arrest. If this is the case then perhaps it should be titled something more like, “Rise and Fall Of a Bodybuilding Star” or something to that effect.

    Of course Puit’s timing is good for him because I can’t imagine anyone purchasing his book after the trial is over.

  9. Dennis L. Bates Says:

    There are several typographical errors throughout the book.

    Dennis L. Bates/Publisher

  10. venice member Says:

    Are there any hallucinations, Dennis?

  11. Chainsaw Says:

    Ya’ll should just buy it. It has all the statements almost word for word from the police report from everyone. Some more of the same, some very new and enlightning. CT aint getting a dime for the book, nor is MJ’s family I am assuming. If all people want is money when someone dies, there is something wrong with that. Expecially when puit had nothing to do with it, and acutally has provided us alot of info for free. There are typo’s in the book which are quite embarrasing. They are supposed to be professionals.

  12. Outside perspective Says:

    If this Craig Titus is all these things said about him, if his wife did it…doesn’t sound like he values anything more than himself…he would roll on her.

  13. Former Houston Resident Says:

    I used to be a member of Worlds Gym on Richmond where Craig worked out. Over a two year period I witnessed Craig punch girlfriends, to defraud high school guys out of money for the false promise of providing steroids. At the time, if it was illegal Titus was involved. He absolutely loved to screw people over, and was obsessed with anything that was illegal. He is the scum of the earth, and deserves whatever he gets.

  14. KNEW THEM Says:

    Former H-town resident: That’s odd Craig always kept his credit good with major deals.

  15. are you serious Says:

    Knew them:

    So you’re saying he always came through for the big drug deals but not the minor ones. What a badge of honor.

  16. KNEW THEM Says:

    Are u seriuos: I’m speaking of the old Craig, I don’t know the Craig from the past 2 years. It’s something when your word is trusted in the BBing community. I’m not calling it a badge of honor, but he was very much trusted for years; even before he turned pro.

  17. fill banner Says:

    I only care about melissa’s family. Craig Titus is just a cold killer!!!! And the book is o.k. at best.

  18. Disgusted Says:

    Let’s get this straight, Craig had good credit for large drug deals and was trusted for years in the illegal drug world.

    It also appears that in your opinion turning pro gave him even more credibility in the illegal drug world.

    You may not be calling it a badge of honor but he certainly wore it as one.

  19. FLASH Says:


  20. KNEW THEM Says:

    Very True, Very Sad…I’m just trying to give insite into the Craig I knew for years.

  21. chainsaw Says:

    Insight is cool. The book gives much insight into CT. He was very insecure, had to always be the Big Bad Wolf. I believe that was a facade. Sounds like KR had the bigger hand in this ordeal. Listen everyone, all 3 of these individuals were extremely fucked up on dope, and I don’t mean like when you go out and drink a little too much. These people were probably up for weeks, unshowered, shaking with cold sweats with Hallucinations and extreme muscle and bone pain. Any one of them would do anything to get that dope, and I believe MJ too. And I’m not trying to disgrace her, it’s just how it is, and it is a damn shame. You don’t get a lethal doese of six monoaceatyl morphine in you’re system by someone else administering it (in a struggle anyway). It doesn’t happen. That cocaine can make anyone say anything, and obviously CT was prone to that. He can’t keep him mouth shut sober, imagine him all doped up.

    I have a feeling after reading this book, one of the too will cop a plea. Probably to 2nd degree murder. It even said in the book that there were rumors of a plea. I DO NOT EXPECT A TRIAL. I was a little disappointed as to the book being double spaced, as well as all the grammatical and spelling errors.

  22. KNEW THEM Says:

    Hey Chain: When I met CT 13 yrs. ago after he introduced himself to me, he asked me if I had a bump and a cig. That was a long time ago, and again I’m just trying to give insite. I do not support murder, people. I don’t know if we will ever know what really happened. Hey Chain can you imagine what a long ride that must have been to Mass.(I mean dting from all of those opiates, I think they had to stop along the way CT and KR really did have friends all over, it was amazing, I mean all over the country). Anyway, a plea maybe, but I think Kelly was more guilty of the harm to MJ. I never knew of CT to abuse his women.

  23. Disgusted Says:

    Don’t think for one minute that the defense will offer character witnesses that place C & K in a positive light but then the DA will also present those rejected by the defense which no doubt add up to much more. There are more videos and testimonies available of Craig’s ill behavior than of him passing out blankets to the homeless.

  24. Disgusted Says:

    Don’t think for one minute that the defense won’t offer character witnesses that place C & K in a positive light but then the DA will also present those rejected by the defense which no doubt add up to much more. There are more videos and testimonies available of Craig’s ill behavior than of him passing out blankets to the homeless.

  25. darkstar Says:


    No trial? Oh, there will be a trial all right…It is going to be a doozy…They are not just going to plead out…Saggese says CT is innocent…a plea admits to culpability and will result in jail time…especially 2nd degree murder like you predict above!

    It also sounds like that book was thrown together in a rush, proofread by idiots and published at Kinkos…I’ll wait for the court trial…


  26. Johnny2007 Says:

    Here’s some dirt to consider. It’s how I met my juice source in late 90’s…the guy I scored from lived near Gold’s Gym Venice and it was thru an ad in the LA gay mag Frontiers (the yellow pages of male hustlers) where he ran a quarter page ad. “David” advertised: “Want to hook up with a professional bodybuilder in contest shape…?” Boy, I sure did…but it cost me $200…just FOR ME to be able to give him a body massage for 45 minutes while doing a couple hits of crystal off his pipe. That was so hot! After that session I had my source all my future roid purchases: sustenon, dianabol, winnie anadrol…and crystal too, but, HE got the juice juice from Craig. Unfortunately, it was like pulling teeth to get the product…always delays or short on product. But it was a “reliable” source. Often tho I thought of going up to Craig @ Gold’s to get, but I was WARNED by my source not to or lose my deal. Seemed to be the way the “distribution” was set up. BTW…I got a lot of those stories if anyone wants to hear them…oh yeah, those were the days! (-’

  27. shockandawe Says:


    That’s very funny. I write for a medium sized newspaper, and have been published in mags for years now, and when I heard that this book was double spaced, I nearly fell off my chair laughing. Only in the bodybuilding community would a book be published in double-spaced format! That’s rich.

    By the way, in the world of publishing, sensational, thrown together reads such as this are called “front list” books. They are meant to be put out rapidly, only in paperback, and then thrown away after one read. They also have a shelf life of about 6-8 months, tops! (I reference OJ and the 3 or 4 books that came out prior to, during and after trial) - or any sensational murder case, in particular.

    It’s meant to be that way. However, it’s sad that a journalist would condone his work being shoddily compiled, complete with his typos and grammatical errors, and not give a crap. Personally, I’d be skulking in the shadows, not appearing on television shows, proud as punch, to promote my book!


  28. shockandawe Says:

    Ooops, my last email didn’t print the intended copied and pasted quote of yours about Kinkos and typing errors.

  29. shockandawe Says:

    What I wouldn’t give to know which pro let you give him a massage and gave you hits off his crystal pipe!! ha! Was it T.P.?

  30. darkstar Says:


    I hear ya… so that’s what they are called, “front list books…”

    I also dont understand why Puit would let such a shoddy piece of “work” be put out there with his name on it, what with all the typos and such…

    You would think a writer for the LVRJ would put a bigger priority on that stuff….unless of course, it is all about making a quick buck…I think that is the obvious answer… I hope he doesnt spend his take too soon from the sales of this “book”, since me thinks it is going to be in the discount bins or disappear quickly in about a New York minute…I still wonder about a potential conflict of interest between Puit and the LVRJ…I mean, he is writing on the case for the paper, and also writing a book on it as well? It seems to me that he is researching on LVRJ time…I could care less, frankly. Im not buying the book…but just wondering…. is he promoting his book on his own dime or the LVRJ? Maybe the publisher is paying for it from all the money they saved in editing…

    It may have a few new juicy tidbits in it, but it sure isnt worth the $15 it supposedly costs…I think that is what somebody said it cost them…

    As I said before, the real stories will be told at the trial, under oath.


  31. KNEW THEM Says:

    Hey Shock: You know as well as I do that a lot of that pose for pay(among pros) is just gay wishful thinking and hoping.

  32. KNEW THEM Says:

    Disgusted: Character witnesses(I guess u mean in the sentencing phase) for CT and KR, come on….none of their family or friends will be even in the same state except maybe Nikki. I doubt she will go near a court house for fear of attachments.

  33. chainsaw Says:

    I don’t think they will go to trial. Saggase has to say he’s innocent and gonna walk him home to get leverage on a deal. The book say’s that I think CT was “Rumored” to tell kelly to take a deal. We’ll have to wait and see.

    Knew Them: Well this world of bodybuilding actually seems more like Chippendales. Them Chippendale guys are all primadona’s. I thought BBing had more class than that. I guess I was wrong. It sounds 10 times worse.

  34. KNEW THEM Says:

    Chain: My pro friends never did any of that gay shit. They were the coolest, hardest training, devoted guys I had ever met in any sport. We did have our share of good times and bad, which made our friendships stronger. All this pose for pay shit(I’m sure it happens) but boy is it overblown. People accuse CT of that shit, and Chain let me tell you, Total B.S. Comparing male strippers and BBers is no comparison. BBers are true atheletes you give their life to a sport that will never be above an underground cult status. They deserve all credit(which isn’t much) that comes their way. I sorry two well know figures in the bbing world are in this situation.

  35. Disgusted Says:

    I see lots of posts here speculating on the Titus outcome based on Puit’s latest attempt at journalism. I hope Saggese is smart enough not to be quoting from it during the trial.

    As for the gay thing, it’s common knowledge and has been going on for ions of years. Just how do you think those pro finance their monthly intake of $4k to $5k worth of drugs each month to maintain their size. Even though not gay themselves, many a pro and non-pro bodybuilder (not all mind you) has turned a gay trick to pay for their ’supplements’.

    I also agree that BBing and male exotic dancing are in now way to be connected in the same sentence.

  36. shockandawe Says:

    Hey Dark..
    Actually the LVRJ probably loves the publicity of one of their writers being out there - that only helps their business and credibility, to be honest. Papers love guys who win awards and write ancillary, high profile projects.
    That’s my experience. But I hear you… I can’t figure whether Puit is a biased, unbiased or neither. I thought for awhile he was Craig’s buddy. If that is found to be the case, then the book was surely a vehicle for Craig’s defense. Though, from what I hear, it’s all witness statements and chain of events. Dunno.

  37. Glenn Puit Says:

    Hi everyone. Glenn Puit in Las Vegas here.
    I wanted to post this message to express my sincere appreciation for all the comments on the book — good and bad. I truly believe every endeavor in life is a learning experience, and I’m always committed to improving my work.
    I also wanted to give you a little more information about “Fire in the Desert” and answer any questions you may have. One of the questions I’ve been asked is whether Titus was involved in this in any way in the book? The answer is no. The first time I ever spoke to him was at the Clark County Detention Center during an interview for the Review-Journal. I took on this project completely on my own and no one on either side has had any say in the contents or will benefit from it in any way.
    Another question is whether I took sides? Absolutely not. I’ve covered the criminal justice system long enough to know that you can’t get involved in rooting for one side or the other. The stakes are simply too high, and if you get involved in this as a reporter, inevitably, it will burn you. The real mission for any legitimate reporter is to the tell the truth and be as accurate as possible. This book is an independent analysis of what Titus and Ryan can expect at trial — no more, no less. I’m proud of that independent approach, and I believe anyone who reads the book will find it quite compelling. There’s a lot of stuff in there that hasn’t come out, and the book format gave me the ability to run complete witness statements. That is very difficult to do in the newspaper.
    Regarding the typos, unfortunately, there are a couple in there, but I would disagree that there are several. It’s been my experience that whenever you take on something as massive as this project in such a short time frame, there is always the possibility that a few typos will somehow find their way in.
    I’ve been asked why I did this book and why I also decided to come out with the book pre-trial. At the time I took this on, I was coming off a very successful run with my first book, “Witch.” It did very well — it’s a great book — and as a result, I’m always on the lookout for other cases that would make for a good book. I like writing true crime books, and, it’s pretty obvious to everyone that the Titus-Ryan affair is a very, very interesting case.
    Primarily, however, the reason I did this book was because I had the chance. I was fortunate to have a source who was willing to give me the entire police investigative case file early on in the case. We put some of the major stuff in the Review-Journal from the file as news content, and in the meantime, I also felt the contents of the police file would make for a good book.
    Bottom line was the opportunity presented itself, so I chose to follow up on it as opposed to letting it get away from me. Regarding the idea that I somehow have a potential conflict as a reporter and author, I’m not agreeing with that at all, although I respect everyone’s opinion and I believe such skepticism is healthy. In fact, there is too little of it in the news business.
    While I agree that there would be the potential for abusing the situation I am in, I have not. My coverage at the paper has been completely independent and extremely aggressive. I’ve published stories that are good and bad for both sides. Simply put, it’s a hell of a story, and anyone who has dealt with me over time knows I can’t be compromised on news coverage.
    Also, the book is a news product published by Stephens Press, which is part of the same company that owns the RJ, so it is a unique situation on the business side.
    There are two reasons why I released the book pretrial. One, there is a competitive advantage in being the first book out. It’s certainly not a perfect situation, but the cold hard truth in the media business is that being second is worthless, and my goal is to have my work read.
    Second, and most importantly, I was in the unique position where I had enough information in front of me, i.e. exclusive content about the case, to warrant publishing the book pretrial. This book is valuable for anyone following the case and who is interested in how the case. As a result, I think the book is very good, and I’m quite proud of it.
    I really hope you enjoy it as well. And, if anyone has any further questions, you can always email me at gpuit@reviewjournal.com, and I’ll do my best to respond. Again, thanks for all your feedback and all your interesting posts on both this site and getbig.com. I read them regularly, and I know everyone else associated with the case is reading them too.
    Thanks again,
    Glenn Puit
    staff writer
    Las Vegas Review-Journal

  38. Johnny Says:

    Sure…there are a lot of gay bodybuilders…in relationships too (ie Bob Paris and Rod Jackson) …and there are a lot of “gay for pay” too. DISGUSTED is right…how do you think these guys can afford the $$$ it costs to shoot up the amount of roids they do to be as big as they are??? Let’s remember…you never hear or read about this part of bodybuilding in any magazine. Why is that? They all endorse they use a particular supplement or protein mix…or eat this or that…etc. They never tell you “Oh, so you know I also inject these thousand milligrams of steroids in my body too…” do they? (And all those supplements Craig endorese taking sure didn’t stay on his body once off the juice…huh?) What reaqlly works better: steroids or supplements? And look at the money the Weiders and all the rest in the biz makeoff this scam! There is a big underground world of naughty naughty stuff that goes on in this biz…and you really get to see it when you go to Gold’s Venice…aka “the Mecca”! The gay thing is all part of it…I lived it there in West Hollywood…a lot of it is closeted in LA. BTW…I just went on Wilkopedia site looking up an article on Craig…let’s not forget that Craig got caught with his pants down in the 90’s for selling ecxtasy, then steroids. Inviting complete strangers to spend a weekend at your home like Craig did is just like me paying my bb source $200 to give him a massage…party with him…and then having him as a source to obtain steroids. His way was just to get as many “sugar daddies” as he could to support his lifestyle…I guarantee it!

  39. KNEW THEM Says:

    Johnny, You are very, very wrong. The majority of pro bbers do not pose for pay ever. There income even before turning pro is from sale of “supplements”, not themselves. The female end of bbing is the darkest by far!

  40. Missing Melissa Says:

    I knew MJ for many years, she and I were very close. We were always together, and talked about everything. We were together the night before she went to Vegas. She was NOT a dope head. She was always very involved with her family and had such a wonderful bond with my baby girl. We talked several times a week and emailed pics back and forth once she left. She was only there for few months before all this. I cant stand to hear someone speak of my friend as a druggie, she wasn’t. She was a wonderful, beautiful, talented person. And while at the same time she wasn’t perfect, no one is. I haven’t read the book yet, and I really don’t know if I want to, I understand its very informative, but sometimes its just all too much to hear. Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes regrets things of the past, but it wasn’t an overdose, and justice will prevail. She was such a blessing to everyone she was around and she is greatly missed… You read about her life, and its like the things that are typed sometimes I’m like do you even know how real this is to us, her friends and family?

  41. Chainsaw Says:

    Missing Melisa:

    There was a lethal dose of six monoaceytl morphine in her blood which will have to be accounted for. It cannot get there by a vial of morphine alone, it had to be heroin. Usually melted and injected (to get a lethal dose). Unfortunately, we will never know exactly what happend. BTW, it only takes 2 days to get hooked on Heroin, so if you didn’t see her in months, you can’t know for sure. We do know she was with 2 heavy dope users at this point. And if she was hooked, she still didn’t deserve to die whichever way it occured.

  42. wayne mortensen Says:

    Okay, we all agree that this book is a little rushed, with lots of typo errors. It gives a timeline and is most informative, but after all of this is over, and CT and KR are found guilty, there will be another book in print detailing the timelines, the murder itself, the trial, and the aftermath, so everyone just hang on.

  43. shockandawe Says:

    Missing Melissa…
    I want to respectfully suggest that reading all of this crap is probably not the best therapy for you to heal from Melissa’s death. Just my two cents, but if I were you, I’d just know NOT to come on here. Or getbig.com or any other site. It’s madness. It’s also meaningless because it’s just a bunch of rabidly curious people who need to piece together circumstances in order to either a) feel important b) feel connected c) feel superior to others in their capacity to prognosticate or d) need to make sense of it somehow becuase they knew one or more of the people involved.

    I know you are the latter, but you are also the victim’s friend and it can’t be good for you in any way, shape or form, to read knucklehead comments that are insensitive because of the lack of connection there.

    I dunno.. I can appreciate that you are hurting - and have an odd desire to hear the talk - curiosity strikes all of us. Obviously, it was a terrible and heinous act, but it has been confirmed more than once by people who knew K&R&M saw all three of them spiral into massive drug use in the months preceding MJ’s murder.

    Most normal people who post on these boards aren’t purposely trying to sully her name, but the fact is, she was involved in drugs and drug use and odd, seedy things because of her connection to K&R. Even her uncle told me that he was afraid he’d hear that she wound up dead one day - he almost expected it, he said. So I don’t think in some ways this came as a surprise to people in her family.

    However, once again, I feel sad she didn’t get out in time. It’s also sad to see someone who was once vital and loving and caring, lose footing and nosedive into self-destruction. Very sad.

    Sometimes part of the grief process (though I’m not telling you how to feel your grief or sadness) is to acknowledge all truths about the situation - it helps us to stop thinking of the person as a saint on a pedastal and lets us see them as human and fallible. She was. We all are. And sometimes, sadly, our humanness is our undoing.

  44. KNEW THEM Says:

    Very well said Shock; I think anyone on this site with half a brain would agree. Also, my prayers do go out to all families and friends hurt by this. Again, well said Shock, I second personally what you stated.

  45. Canadian Connection Says:

    Very Well Put Shock.

  46. darkstar Says:

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll just say also very well put, Shock…


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