About the Victim - Melissa James
Who is Melissa James?
From Ron Avidan at Getbig.com.
Melissa Ann James was born on March 23, 1977. Melissa’s mom is named Maura, and she had a brother and a sister. Christopher Leavy, Melissa’s uncle, was kind enough to provide us with some information below so we can know who Melissa was and it is much appreciated. It is also nice to know that the family does not blame the bodybuilding community for this tragedy at all, that it looks like an isolated event, and they are touched that a lot of people in the industry are expressing their condolences, well wishes and are offering to help them. More information on that in the near future.
Melissa grew up in Panama City, Florida, and was a smart student in high school. She was a cheerleader at A. Crawford Mosley High School, in Lynn Haven, Florida (right next to Panama City), but graduated one year earlier than scheduled, in 1994.
She then attended Gulf Coast Community College, taking courses in Business Administration. She went to college for two year, but didn’t have a chance finish her degree. She had a yen for opening up her own dance studio, and she did, at age 19. Melissa loved to dance, and she had started taking dance lessons by age 7. She loved jazz and ballet classes, and during the time when her studio was open from 1996 to 2003, she was very well know in Panama City. She also choreographed her own dance routines.
Melissa cared a lot about the kids in the area. She offered, via her dance studio, scholarships to underprivileged kids to grammar school to learn dance with her. She also helped children with special needs.
Melissa also did a lot of local modeling, and some local commercials, usually in the summer when her dance studio was slower, as it was geared to be on the same track as the local schools. Melissa did promo work for Calvin Klein, Hawaiian Tropics, Gotcha clothing line, and a few others. She also did some television work on Beach TV (local Panama City channel), and was also on MTV. Also, Meliisa was an arena football cheerleader for one year.
Melissa was introduced to Craig in 1996 in Panama City by a common friend. They quickly hit it off and became friends. Melissa was very bubbly, and liked to talk to a lot of people about anything.
In late 2002, she moved out to Los Angeles for some promo work and other commercial work. She had hired other people to run the dance studio by then and had a partner in it. Melissa has not an angel by any means, but she was impressed by the glitz and glamour of that type of world that was offered in Los Angeles. The parties, meeting the rich and the famous, the social crowds. But the family also thought and hoped that they were a good influence on her. They were business people, a prominent couple in the industry.
In 2003, when Craig & Kelly moved to Vegas, she moved to Las Vegas to be a personal trainer at whichever gym Craig was managing. When things didn’t work out, she eventually moved back to Panama City.
In October 2005, she moved back to Vegas, she was asked by Craig & Kelly to move there to assist in the opening of the Ice Gear sports clothing line. That is what she was going out there. Melissa did eventually want to go back to school to finish her degree, and also to open up another dance studio for children and young adults again in the near future.
In December 2005, she was heading home to her Mom’s house in New Jersey to spend the Holidays with her family. Her flight was on Tuesday night, December 13th, at 10:30pm. She never made the flight.
Maura James (the victim’s mother)
Maura James, who on Thursday marked her 51st birthday by remembering her daughter with relatives in Florida, said she hopes the fugitives will soon be caught.
“I find it hard to believe they had anything to do with it because she trusted them as friends,” she said. “I was shocked. I never imagined they’d be capable of doing anything like this.”
Maura James, who lives in New Jersey, said she last spoke with her daughter about 11:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time on Dec. 13. During the brief cell phone conversation, Melissa James said she was eating at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.
Maura James heard her daughter ask someone what they wanted to eat. She asked her daughter whom she was with, but the question went unanswered.
A short time later, Melissa James wrapped up the call and said she would call back after lunch.
She never called back and never answered her mother’s follow-up calls.
The next day, a Wednesday, Maura James went to the Newark airport before 9 a.m. She was scheduled to pick up her daughter, who was coming home for Christmas. She said her daughter was also considering moving home to New Jersey.
Melissa James’ flight arrived, but she wasn’t on it. Maura James called her cell phone and left messages. Airport officials issued a page over a public address system. Maura James eventually returned home alone.
She later calMaura Jamesled Titus’ cell phone several times and left messages.
“I thought she had been in an accident or something,” she said. “I started calling hospitals in Las Vegas. Nobody had her.
“Thursday night is when I got the call from the coroner. … She had been strangled.”
Maura James said her daughter never mentioned being romantically involved with Titus, who married Ryan in Clark County in June 2000. Melissa James, who was a model and former dance instructor, had lived with the bodybuilders in Southern California several years ago.
Titus asked Melissa James to move to Las Vegas about two months ago, and she accepted, her mother said.
In the days before her death, James told her mother that she and Ryan were not getting along. She said she was staying at a hotel.
“I said, ‘Why?’ She said, ‘Well, Kelly is flipping out and acting crazy,’•” Maura James said.
Titus booked the hotel room for two nights, from Dec. 12 to Dec. 14, and paid for it with a credit card belonging to Emperor Enterprises, a company he and Ryan own, according to police.
“He said he had spent most of one night with James at her room,” investigators said in the report, quoting Titus.
Titus also paid for James’ plane ticket home, her mother said.