Former Gamecock cheerleader, husband arrested in Massachusetts for murder

Published: Dec. 24, 2005 at 12:00 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 29, 2005 at 4:58 PM EST
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(Las Vegas, Nevada-NBC and AP) Dec. 24, 2005 -A South Carolina graduate and former cheerleader was arrested along with her husband Friday in Massachusetts as fugitives in the slaying of a woman found last week.

Kelly Ryan and professional bodybuilder husband Craig Titus, both from Las Vegas, have been wanted in connection with the death of Melissa James, found in Ryan's burned-out luxury car abandoned off a remote desert highway.

Ryan has competed in fitness competitions, and her Web site says she has a journalism degree from the University of South Carolina.

Online interviews given by Ryan say she grew up in Greenville and was a cheerleader for the Gamecocks.

Titus is wanted on murder charges in Nevada. Ryan was sought as an accessory to murder. The couple also face charges of third-degree arson.

Court records show that Titus told Las Vegas police he had a secret romance with the 28-year-old James.

Authorities say the couple allegedly killed their roommate after that love-triangle was revealed and then left her body in a burning car.

They lived in the limelight, sculpting their bodies and personal training, but the arrest warrants charged Craig Titus with murder and Kelly Ryan with accessory to commit murder.

"The trail started when the Mountain Springs firefighters put out the car before it was totally obliterated, and were able to get identifiers off the car, which led us to Kelly Ryan. And then just good old-fashioned police work developed sufficient evidence where we could charge Craig as well as Kelly with the murder," says one police official.

James' body was found bound and gagged inside the trunk of Ryan's car.

According to police warrants, Ryan and Titus said they hired Melissa James to manage their personal affairs, and that they'd just discovered James had been taking money out of their bank account and charging their credit cards without their permission.

They also stated that they think James had taken their car, a 2003 Jaguar, from their garage without permission. According to the couple, James had stolen the car, although no police report was ever filed.

Titus did admit to detectives that he was having with an affair with James and his wife didn't know about it. He rented a room for James at a hotel and spent one night with her before she died.

Updated 1:15pm by Chantelle Janelle