CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — The holiday season should be filled with merriment for all. But families who have lost a loved one, especially to a violent crime, face a season of sadness.
This is especially true for the family of a Kentucky woman who was found brutally murdered in South Carolina more than two years ago. In 2021, her loved ones are still praying and hoping for answers and justice.
On September 20th, 2019, Chester County deputies were called out to Lizzie Melton Road in Richburg, South Carolina. Detectives found a woman's body, burned and left in a ditch.
Because of the damage done, it took weeks before she was identified: 31-year-old Melissa Whitis, a mother of four from Frankfort, Kentucky with no known ties to the Palmetto State. More than two years later, no one has been charged with her murder.
“Melissa had a big family that loved her," said her mom, Rosetta Turner. "[Her family] supported her. She wasn't just some kind of trash they throw in the ditch. Whoever did this is a monster. It is a monster, not a human being."
Detectives weren't able to use traditional methods like DNA samples and fingerprints but were able to trace the serial number of a medical device implanted in Whitis' head.
"This has been a difficult case due to how long it took to positively identify [Melissa Whitis]," said Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey. "But, nevertheless, we are still putting our energy and all efforts towards solving this case."
Turner, who lives in Kentucky, said she loses sleep thinking of her daughter's murder. Just as much as she wants justice, she still has questions that need answering: How did Melissa Whitis end up in South Carolina, more than 400 miles away from home? Who was she with? Why was she killed? Admittedly, Whitis was known to keep to herself. But for Turner, it doesn't lessen the pain.
"Melissa was very private," said Turner. "As a mother, she didn't want me to know anything."
Sheriff Dorsey provided a statement to WCNC Charlotte regarding the ongoing investigation:
We are actively pursuing leads, and we are receiving the cooperation of other law enforcement agencies outside of South Carolina. We are hopeful that we will bring justice to Melissa’s family.
Prior to her death, detectives said Whitis was spotted in Kentucky, Virginia, and Mocksville, North Carolina. If you have any information or think you may have seen Whitis, you're asked to contact the Chester County Sheriff’s Office.