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Professional bodybuilding reacts to the guilty pleas of Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan in the murder of Melissa James
June 2, 2008
On Friday, May 30, Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan entered guilty pleas in the murder of Melissa James. Now that the pleas have been entered and some resolution has been reached, we caught up with some of the competitors who knew the couple to get their reactions to the tragic event.
JAY CUTLER, 2x Mr. Olympia
“I knew Craig pretty well. Craig wouldn’t have done this normal. He wasn’t that nuts. The drugs got to him. The recreational drugs – I feel – had something to do with it. It was a bad situation. It’s a terrible tragedy not only with the girl who died [Melissa James] but with Kelly and Craig. I admired what he did with his career for a long time. We got our pro status the same year, in ’96. He won the USAs, I won the Nationals. He was a marketable guy when I was up and coming. In ’92, ’93, ’94 – he was kind of what bodybuilding was all about. He had the All-American look I was trying to go for. We all know Craig was crazy.
We’ve seen all his escapades, his hothead fashion and the numerous number of girls that he hung out with . . . the guy dated a lot of women in the industry, he pretty much got every girl he went after. But in the end I don’t think anyone could imagine he would do any harm to any of these girls. But when you kill someone, he totally lost his mind at that point. We have someone who is dead in this situation, and he has to take whatever circumstances it was under and he has to pay for his part in that.”
CHRIS CORMIER, 2005 San Francisco Pro Invitational winner, 6x Arnold Classic runner-up
“We were running mates. He was one of the boys from Venice. I met him back in ’92, he was competing against my brother at the Ironman amateur, and Craig beat him. I knew of him from Texas before he moved out to Venice. He’s always been the same type of dude as far as . . . some might think chip on his shoulder, some might think alpha-male type. He’s got different degrees of that. I was closer to him than a lot of people I think and to Kelly too. I didn’t think would end up with this type of drama but I knew it wasn’t good. I heard from him five days before this [Melissa James’ murder] happened. But he was in the frame of mind where he couldn’t think things through at the time. He definitely wasn’t thinking straight. I knew he was on a highway to hell.”
ADELA GARCIA, 3x Fitness Olympia winner
BOB CICHERILLO, 2006 Masters Pro World winner, Pro Bodybuilding Weekly host
“Honestly, I’m not surprised. The funny part is I’ve seen it painted as the last noble act for Titus. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This isn’t about protecting Kelly. Both parties are repped by the same firm. There was tons of evidence against them and it was mostly pointing at Craig. And Kelly’s attorney’s were probably going to turn against Craig. So this was a move to save his hide. He’s always been the bad seed. Always hung with the wrong crew. The further they got from bodybuilding and the IFBB the more they got themselves into trouble. In a nutshell you reap what you sow. But lost in all of this is that Melissa James lost her life and her family has to live with that. The bottom line is this girl is dead and that shouldn’t be lost in all the talk about Craig and Kelly.”
TRACEY GREENWOOD, 2007 Atlantic City Pro and New York Pro Fitness winner
TOM PRINCE, 1997 NPC Nationals Overall winner
My heart goes out to the parents and family of Melissa James. She was sweet. I had lunch at the Firehouse a couple of times with Craig, Kelly, and Melissa James. It was a week or so after Craig had met Melissa at the NPC Jr. Florida. Melissa was at Gold’s Venice training every day for the week after the show. I remember her very well. The situation, and what ultimately transpired, is very sad.”
JEN HENDERSHOTT, 2005 Fitness Olympia and 2005 Fitness International winner
When I first came into the industry, she was one of the people I aspired to be like. Her and Susie Curry, I wanted to get to their level. We became friends and at the very beginning in 2000, 2001 – she was great. Then as the years progressed, I started placing better and then they [Kelly and Craig] almost made me fee like I was a threat to hear so they started treating me differently.
Eventually we had a really big blowout, where I was forced to pick sides between Craig and Kelly and another couple in the industry, and I chose to be loyal to the other couple. That was when they started sending me threatening emails that had me concerned for my safety. That was in 2003, 2004, and that was it, that was the end of my friendship with her. So am I surprised by this? No, I’m not surprised by any means, because I was threatened by them. I feel incredibly sad for the victim [Melissa James] and for all the fans in this sport who looked up to Kelly.”
MELVIN ANTHONY, 2004 Night of Champions winner
“I just wish him the best. Our history was up and down. Towards the end we were tight, we talked a lot. We did a couple of guest posings together, the last time I saw him was in Arkansas at Chad Nichols’ show. But everybody has a choice they gotta make in life and whatever happens, you got to deal with it. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy but the way the world is set up, if you do something you got to pay for it. The way it went down, it’s not good for bodybuilding, but at the same time you have to look at the situation he was in and the frame of mind he was in, going through ups and downs.”