San Diego

Officials Identify Woman Found Dead on Hiking Trail

Melissa Whitby's husband Winnie Whitby was acquitted of a double murder charge in Maryland in the 1990s.

As the San Diego County Sheriff's Department investigates the killing of a Jamul woman, NBC 7 has learned the woman's husband was charged and acquitted in a separate homicide case decades ago.

Melissa Whitby, 49, was reported missing by her husband on December 31.

Seven days later, Whitby was found dead on a Jamul hiking trail, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office.

Hikers discovered the body at 3:44 p.m. on the Skyline Truck Trail about a mile and a half away from the couple's home.

The autopsy examination from the Medical Examiner's Office revealed the cause of death was due to trauma in her upper body. The manner of death was confirmed as a homicide.

All other details about the autopsy have been sealed by the ME's office, while the homicide investigation continues. A suspect was not yet known.

NBC 7 has learned that Winnie Whitby, the husband of a woman found dead Saturday in Jamul, was tried and acquitted of a double murder charge in Maryland in the 1990s.

Winne Whitby has not been identified as a suspect or a person of interest in his wife's death, homicide detective Lt. Kenn Nelson told NBC 7.

“Homicide investigations are lengthy, detailed incidents and we’re right now just getting out of the starting blocks on this one,” Nelson said.

Neighbors of the Whitby's said the details of the prior case are chilling.

"I'm not really a Californian, I've only been here a few years and this seems to be a nice, quaint country community. And for that to happen throws me off," said neighbor Scott McCulloch.

NBC 7 also spoke to some friends of the victim who told us she was a happy and kind-hearted woman.

According to her friends, Whitby became isolated and stopped communicating after meeting her husband.

Anyone with information about this incident can call the Sheriff's Homicide Detail unit at (858)974-2321/after hours at (858)565-5200, or remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at (888)580-8477.

If information helps lead to an arrest in this case, you may be eligible for a $1,000 reward, according to the SDSO.

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