Missing Jamul woman believed to have been murdered

Posted at 11:34 AM, Jan 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-10 09:52:52-05

JAMUL, Calif. - Sheriff's homicide detectives are investigating the death of a 49-year-old Jamul woman whose body was discovered by a hiker on a dirt road last weekend.

Authorities identified the victim as Melissa Whitby, who was reported missing on Dec. 31 by her husband. Whitby's body was found just off Skyline Truck Trail -- about a mile from where she lived with her husband.

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office determined her death to be a homicide with trauma to her upper body, but other details regarding her murder were sealed.

10News learned the victim's co-workers asked sheriff's deputies to perform a welfare check at her home after she did not show up for work the previous day at an El Cajon rehabilitation center where she worked as a nurse supervisor.

Co-worker Olivia Moreno said Whitby was a devoted nurse who always looked out for her co-workers.

"She was a very loving and caring and very intelligent nurse …," said Moreno, who added she is hoping for justice for her friend.

10News learned her husband, Perry Whitby, was questioned by police in the double-murder of two brothers in 1993. The victims were his then fiance's brothers.

Moreno said she was aware of his past, telling 10News, "She told me to Google him, that he was accused of a murder in Maryland but was never charged and was released."

According to newspaper articles, a grand jury was convened, but Perry Whitby was never convicted. It's unclear if the case ever went to trial.

"It's not every day that you read something like that or you know somebody that that's happened to, but you know, I figured that they let him go for a reason and he was maybe in with the wrong crowd and he changed his life and he was doing OK," said Moreno.

Moreno said Whitby's husband told them he last saw her Dec. 29 when she left the house to go to a casino.

"He seemed concerned," said Moreno.

Moreno said she's still trying to come to terms with her friend's death.

"The person that I know, the caring and loving person I know, would not put herself in danger to have something like this happen to her," said Moreno.

San Diego County sheriff's homicide Lt. Kenn Nelson told 10News that no one has been arrested for Whitby's death, but no one has been ruled out either.

If you have information on Whitby's death, you can call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 888-580-8477.

Sandy Coronilla is a digital producer for KGTV 10News. Follow her on Twitter @10NewsSandy