East County man accused of murdering wife, leaving body on hiking trail

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EL CAJON, Calif. -- In an El Cajon courtroom Wednesday, a judge decided there is enough evidence to try an East County man for the murder of his wife.

Winnie Whitby, 49, of Jamul, is accused of murdering and dumping his wife's body on a hiking trail nearly two years ago. Whitby wept as evidence was presented and as several detectives, deputies and friends of the victim took the stand Wednesday.

“Mr. Whitby said that he thought that she was having an affair or something,” said former San Diego Sheriff’s Deputy Alexander Ferguson of his initial conversations with the husband.

"He told us he’d been feeling paranoid. He accused his wife of sending people after him and posting pictures of him online," said San Diego Sheriff’s Detective Isais Gardea.

The couple’s estranged relationship and Whitby’s reaction to his missing wife were also discussed. “He said they, 'had their reasons,' and that everybody has their problems,” Ferguson said.

“I asked him if he tried to contact her. He said no, he hadn’t, but he believed that her phone was off,” said San Diego Sheriff’s Deputy Miles Lelevier.

Eventually, deputies in San Diego were able to gather enough evidence to link Whitby to his wife’s death. Whitby, who is being held without bail, was arrested in Maryland in October of last year and extradited back to San Diego to face charges.

Melissa Whitby went missing Dec. 16, 2016. A hiker found her body in January 2017 along the Skyline Truck Trail, just a mile and half away from the couple’s home.

Whitby faces 25 years to life in prison, plus one year for a knife allegation if he's convicted.

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