CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - Nearly three weeks after a passerby discovered a woman’s body badly burned in a Chester County ditch, authorities now know who she is - and they say that’s thanks to a medical device in the victim’s head.
Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey described the device as a shunt and said upon its discovery, it led investigators overseas.
“That device was manufactured in Switzerland,” said Dorsey. “The [Chester County coroner and SLED] were able to identify this manufacturer, and then working with that manufacturer they were able to contact probably a dozen hospitals where those types of devices were shipped to.”
That led them to Kentucky and eventually to the identity of 31-year-old Melissa Whitis of Frankfurt.
“She is a mother, and she is a daughter,” said Dorsey.
He says her body was first spotted by a passerby in a small ditch off the side of Lizzie Melton Road in the Richburg area of Chester County back on September 20.
“She was burned there at the scene,” said Dorsey. “It was a horrific scene, just to know that that was a human life that was discarded in a ditch right next to trash.”
Right now, Dorsey says they don’t know how or why Whitis ended up in Chester County. They do know she was in Davie County, North Carolina, just three days before she was found.
“We are interested in anyone who had contact with her from September 17 to September 20 at any location. regardless of where it was,” added Dorsey.
It took 20 days to solve the identity Melissa Whitis. Sheriff Dorsey says they’ll spend however many more they need to find her killer.
“It’s my job and it’s the job of all of law enforcement, whether it be here in Chester County, in South Carolina, North Carolina or Kentucky, to make sure to investigate this and to give her a voice even though she is no longer with us,” he said.
Deputies believe Whitis may have been wearing yellow pants, a gray overcoat and had a knee brace on the last time she was seen.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Chester County Sheriff’s Office at 803-581-5131.