Friend of Local Woman Murdered in Las Vegas Speaks Out

By: Sabrina Zimring
By: Sabrina Zimring

Officials arrested Ryan and Titus last week in Boston in connection with James' murder. The couple appeared in a Massachusetts court Wednesday. They're fighting extradition.

James had been working as a personal assistant to the bodybuilder couple. They claim they fired her the day before her body was found.

Now Melissa James was raised here in Panama City. She was a 1995 graduate from Mosley and still has many friends and family in the area.

Becky Harrison and Melissa James grew up in neighboring houses. They walked to school together everyday.

"She was a comedian, pass notes in class, nicknames for everyone. She was just a character, but also a great friend."

Becky and Melissa kept in touch after high school, and although they spoke less often as years passed they caught up in no time at all.

"I can go 20 years with out talking to her and be caught up in an hour.

The last time Becky and Melissa spoke was in July.

"Our last conversation was her checking up on me. She didn't want anything to bother me that might be bothering her."

Becky says she hopes the community will remember Melissa the way she does.

"I want Melissa to be remembered for who she was and not the bad decisions within the past year or two. It's not her character, just bad choices and bad decisions."

Melissa's family plans to bury her in Panama City once authorities finish their investigation.

Investigators are still trying to figure out exactly what happened. The couple claims they fired James because she stole money from their bank account. Then she stole their Jaguar as she was leaving.

Another account has Ryan claiming James overdosed on drugs and she and Titus decided to get rid of her body, but Vegas police say Titus killed James by strangling her. They found white fabric around her neck and duct tape on her face.


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