Husband guilty in stabbing death of woman whose body was found on hiking trail

Winnie Whitby, 49, weeps as evidence is read against him in court. Whitby is accused of murdering his wife and dumping her body off a Jamul hiking trail.

EL CAJON, Calif. — A man convicted of fatally stabbing his wife, whose body was discovered alongside a hiking trail near the couple’s Jamul home, faces more than 15 years to life in state prison when he is sentenced next month.

Following a day of deliberations, jurors convicted Winnie Perry Whitby, 49, late Tuesday of second-degree murder and an allegation of using a knife in the killing of 49-year-old Melissa Whitby, who was reported missing by her co-workers a week before her body was found on the afternoon of Jan. 7, 2017.

A hiker came across her body on a footpath off the 15800 block of Skyline Truck Trail, about a mile west of the couple’s home. She was stabbed multiple times in the face and chest, according to prosecutors.

Her husband told authorities his wife had gone out two nights prior to New Year’s Eve and never returned.

Prosecutors did not lay out a concrete motive for the killing, but said Whitby harbored delusions regarding his wife, including that she posted suggestive pictures of him on the internet and that she was in league with the Mexican Mafia. Prosecutors say he made similar claims about an ex-wife.

Whitby was arrested nearly two years later in Goldsboro, Maryland, and was extradited to San Diego County, where he remains held without bail. Sentencing is slated for May 20 in an El Cajon courtroom.

In 1995, Whitby stood trial in Denton, Maryland, on charges of gunning down his fiancee’s two brothers. He was acquitted of two counts of first- degree murder and four other criminal charges in the case, the Star Democrat newspaper reported.

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