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How did Craig Titus go from bodybuilding champion to convicted murderer? The April 14 episode of true crime series Sin City Murders dives into the twisted story of Titus, who in 2008 pleaded guilty to murdering Melissa James. 

According to retired bodybuilder Shawn Ray, who knew Titus from the bodybuilding circuit, things started to go wrong once Titus started to succumb to “the temptations of Sin City.” 

Craig Titus was ‘dedicated’ to his sport, Shawn Ray says 

Ray opens up about Titus in the upcoming episode of Oxygen True Crime’s Sin City Murders. 

“My experience with Craig was that he was dedicated,” Ray says in a clip from the show. 

Titus’s commitment to bodybuilding propelled him to the top of his sport. 

“Craig was a hardcore bodybuilder. He finished second in the Olympia twice, second in the world,” explains Lonnie Teper, a bodybuilding journalist and emcee. “He won the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic.”

“Craig Titus was a new age bad boy of bodybuilding,” Teper says. 

That “bad boy” image wasn’t just for show. Titus also had a dark side. For one, he had a notoriously bad temper. Once, when he failed to win a competition, he stormed off stage and broke his trophy, Ray recalled. He also had a criminal past, including an arrest on drug charges that resulted in prison time. But it wasn’t until after he met his wife, Kelly Ryan, that things really spiraled out of control. 

Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan’s downfall is explored in ‘Sin City Murders’ 

Composite image of a burned out car and Craig Titus and Kelly Ryan competing in bodybuilding contests
[L-R] The car where Melissa James’ body was found; Craig Titus; Kelly Ryan | Courtesy of Oxygen True Crime/Gary Gardiner/Getty Images

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Ryan was also involved in competitive fitness. Once she and Titus got together, they became media darlings. 

“The magazines loved them. The sponsors loved them,” recalls Killer Bodies author Michael Fleeman. “They loved the story of the beast and the beauty.”

But as Ryan got older, her career waned. Meanwhile, she and Titus began to embrace a lifestyle that was a far cry from the disciplined existence of elite pro athletes. 

“I think they started to party,” Ray says. “And the temptations of Sin City crept into the house.” 

In 2005, the body of Melissa James, Titus and Ryan’s personal assistant, was discovered in a burnt-out car outside of Las Vegas. Suspicion quickly turned to her employers. But what exactly had happened to Melissa? And how were Titus and Ryan involved? Find out when the next episode of Sin City Murders airs Sunday, April 14 at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Oxygen True Crime.

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