More arrests have been made in connection with the investigation surrounding a murdered South Carolina woman and the death of her newborn son.
Tyler Wilkins, 21, remains in custody for the Nov. 9 kidnapping and murder of his estranged girlfriend, Clarrissa Michelle Winchester, 22, and for neglecting the pair’s newborn son after its recent birth, resulting in the baby’s death. Greenville County investigators believe Wilkins beat Winchester to death at a Marietta, South Carolina home belonging to his relatives — about 15 miles north of Greenville in the northwestern region of the state.
Winchester died of blunt force trauma to her head and neck, while the baby’s cause of death is still pending.
Winchester had already named the child Grayson, according to her obituary.
On Monday, Greenville County officials announced the arrests of two of Wilkins’ relatives: Michael Thomas Burnett, 43, and Melissa Michelle Burnett, 49, who “were in the house at the time of the brutal assault which resulted in Winchester’s death" and “failed to act, call 911, or provide any other assistance,' according to an arrest warrant obtained by NBC Myrtle Beach affiliate WMBF-TV.
Both Burnetts are accused of doing nothing while listening to Winchester beg for her life for roughly two hours.
It remains unclear how the Burnetts are related to Wilkins, though both were charged Saturday with misprision of a felony and booked into the Greenville County Detention Center.
The search for Winchester began after parents Melinda and Michael Winchester grew concerned when they couldn’t get ahold of their daughter on the morning of Nov. 9, according to CBS Spartanburg affiliate WSPA-TV.
Photo: Greenville County Sheriff's Office
“We tried to call her. Melinda tried to call her starting at 7:30 in the morning, and we just never got an answer,” said Mr. Winchester. “We tried to call [Wilkins’] phone [and] it rang a few times and did the same, so we just figured they were in bed asleep."
“And after a while, his phone started going straight to voicemail,” he continued. “Hers continued to ring throughout the whole process and just never got an answer, and we know that just wasn’t Clarrissa, and that’s not our relationship with her.”
The worried parents reported Winchester — whom they say was seven months pregnant — missing at around 8:30 p.m., according to the sheriff’s office. Michael Winchester said he first looked for Wilkins at a residence on Saw Mill Road, the same road listed as the Burnetts’ address.
“We decided to go check on her,” Mr. Winchester told WSPA-TV reporters. “I went to his door, and I could tell right away that something was wrong. He went back inside his home. Shut his door, and we immediately called the police, and they came right out, and everything started unfolding."
“Little did we know she was in the home,” Mr. Winchester continued. “He beat her to death without mercy.”
Inside, authorities ultimately found Winchester’s body, “along with a lifeless fetus,” according to the sheriff’s office.
Investigators initially charged Wilkins with unlawful conduct toward a child after learning “he failed to seek medical attention for the recently born fetus,” authorities stated.
Kidnapping and murder charges were added the next day, following further investigation.
“The baby would have meant… did mean everything to us,” Mr. Winchester stated. “We’d been buying and patiently waiting to meet this baby boy. We were robbed of the opportunity to get to be g-paw and g-maw.”
Wilkins has a lengthy rap sheet, including 2021 charges of drug manufacturing and possession and being in receipt of stolen goods.
Stemming from a Dec. 8, 2021 incident, Wilkins was also charged with two counts of attempted murder, domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, pointing an armed weapon at a person, threatening the life of an officer, throwing bodily fluids at an officer and resisting arrest.
Photo: Greenville County Sheriff's Office
Michael Winchester told WSPA-TV that the December charges resulted from an incident when Wilkins allegedly fired a gun at him and Clarrissa Winchester. Mr. Winchester said they “tried to work through” the event by practicing forgiveness.
Mr. Winchester added that his daughter “thought she could save him” and “didn’t want to give up on him,” despite the red flags of Wilkins, whom Mr. Winchester referred to as “controlling, manipulative, and psychologically abusive.”
The recent charges against the Burnetts are the latest in a twisted investigation surrounding Wilkins, who was reportedly in a relationship with 19-year-old Jorden Nebling when she disappeared sometime around Oct. 10, 2020 from Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina.
No one has seen Nebling since.
Nebling’s stepmother, Mary Tucker, said Tyler was the last person to see Nebling alive, according to Fox Greenville affiliate WHNS.
“The car broke down, and she had somebody to come and pick her up,” Tucker told reporters. “Tyler is the one that come and picked her up. He told the detectives, and he said she walked away, and he doesn’t know where she went.”
Wilkins has not been charged in connection with Nebling’s disappearance.
On Saturday evening, Winchester’s relatives appeared in a courtroom, where Michael and Melissa Burnett made their first appearance before a judge, according to NBC Charleston affiliate WCBD-TV.
“Our whole family has been devastated by this,” Mr. Winchester said in court. “Our daughter was huge-hearted and kind to anybody.”
The judge posted $20,000 bond for each suspect, though both have since posted bond and have been released from jail, according to the sheriff’s office.
Tyler Wilkins remains held without bond, according to jail records reviewed by Oxygen.com.