December 2, 2023

Matthew Trussler and Melissa Turner

Melissa Turner

On Oct. 18, 2019, Melissa Turner frantically called 911 saying she found her fiancé, Matthew Trussler, laying in a pool of blood on the patio of their suburban Tampa, Florida, home. “We had a lot of drinks last night and we went to bed drunk,” Turner told the 911 operator. “… woke up this morning and he was bloody and outside this morning.”

Meeting on an app

Matthew Trussler and Melissa Turner

Melissa Turner

Turner told “48 Hours,” they had met on Tinder in April 2017. From that moment their relationship blossomed into an engagement. But, in October 2019, authorities escorted Melissa to the sheriff’s office for additional questioning. 

Melissa’s police interrogation

Melissa Turner interrogation

Defense Attorney John Trevena

A couple of hours after that frantic 911 call, investigators interviewed Turner about their drunken night. Melissa says she and Trussler had been drinking and she eventually fell asleep. She says she woke up and found Matthew dead. However, she didn’t know that investigators had been tipped off about a surveillance camera that captured more than what she revealed.

An important clue

Neighbor's security camera

CBS News

While Turner was at the sheriff’s office, Det. Ryan LaGasse canvassed the neighborhood for clues. He says he noticed a neighbor’s surveillance camera that was pointing directly at the couple’s home and decided to see if it had critical information. When the owner shared the footage, he heard sounds of a yelling from two voices. One of the voices, which sounded female, said “so f***ing die!” Detective LaGasse immediately shared this with other investigators.

The couple’s injuries

Matthew Trussler autopsy sketch

Hillsborough County Medical Examiner

When Trussler’s body was examined, the medical examiner said he had a defensive wound on his right forearm, a large laceration to his chest, a small cut to the right shoulder, and a large wound on his back that is consistent with a stab wound. The medical examiner noted the cause of death as “incised wound to arm with perforation of cephalic vein.” Turner had a cut on her hand.

Seeking the truth

Trussler crime scene

CBS News

Back at the sheriff’s office, investigators asked Turner about the video displaying sounds of an argument from her house. At first she said, “I have no memory of any argument…” However, a few hours into the investigation Melissa’s story changed completely. She could now remember what unfolded between them.

Melissa’s perspective

Murder weapon

Defense Attorney John Trevena

Turner told investigators Trussler woke her up and he was still intoxicated. She was angry from being woken up and they began to argue. Melissa says Matthew was holding a knife and she tried to grab it and things escalated. “If it was an accident, then I would have called 911, and not just let him die,” Turner told investigators. 

Arrest for murder

Melissa Turner arrest photo

Defense Attorney John Trevena

Within the same day of that frantic 911 call Turner  placed, authorities arrested her for second degree murder with weapon. She was taken to the local jail.

Matthew’s family

Trussler family

Sean Trussler/Jennifer Jiles

When Matthew Trussler’s family heard the news, they were in shock. Matthew’s older brother Sean and his fiancé, who also lived near Matthew and Melissa, immediately had their suspicions. “She took Mattie long before she took him forever,” Sean Trussler told “48 Hours.”

Pictured from left: Matthew’s mother Margaret, brother Sean, Sean’s fiancé Jennifer and Matthew Trussler.

Melissa’s past

Cameron Walega and Melissa Turner

Cameron Walega

Cameron Walega, a man who says he dated Turner, recalled her interest in fitness since she lost 100 pounds. He also remembers when she created a second blog with sexually explicit content. 

Cosplaying performance

Melissa Turner in costume

Melissa Turner’s Tumblr website

Turner’s second blog featured her cosplaying as various characters, such as Daphne from “Scooby Doo” and Misty from “Pokemon,” while engaging in sexual acts according to her ex-boyfriend Cameron Walega. He says he noticed a change in her personality shortly after starting that blog. “And the more and more success that she found, the more and more unstable she became,” he told “48 Hours”. Eventually the couple parted ways.

The trial begins


CBS News

On Feb. 14, 2022, two years after Matthew Trussler’s death, Melissa Turner went on trial for murder. Turner’s attorney, John Trevena, said this is a case of self-defense. “She did have a history of abuse and that there was abuse in this relationship, and that she acted in self-defense.”

However, prosecutors didn’t believe that narrative. “I think she was intoxicated and I do think she went far beyond anything she thought she would do,” Assistant District Attorney Chinwe Fossett told “48 Hours.” “Maybe she was just so frustrated with his drinking … that she harms him so badly that he ends up dying.”  

Melissa takes the stand

Melissa Turner testifies

CBS News

Turner decided to testify at the trial. She described Trussler’s issues with alcohol. That night his alcohol level was nearly five times the legal limit in Florida. She also described his strange behavior in the past. “He would stare off at some corner … and he would tell me that ‘there’s a demon standing right there.'”

Despite not remembering how Trussler ended up with wounds in various parts of his body, Turner said she could only remember stabbing him once in the back. “I stabbed him once to get him off of me from strangling me.” 

An expert’s testimony

Audio expert Bruce Koenig

CBS News

A key piece of evidence was the neighbor’s surveillance footage that capture sounds of an argument from Melissa and Matthew’s home. Audio expert Bruce Koenig testified that sections of the audio had been volume enhanced. Defense attorney John Trevena believed the audio had been tampered with. “I find it highly suspicious that…Ms. Turner’s voice is screeching loud. But when it came to, you know, Matthew Trussler … you could barely hear mumbling.”

The verdict

Melissa Turner in court

CBS News

On Feb. 18, 2022, jurors deliberated for seven hours before reaching a decision. Melissa Turner was found guilty of murder in the second degree. 

Donald Goodwin, who was one of the jurors, said he thought Melissa had snapped. “… she knew he was gonna die, she knew it, and yet, she called nobody,” he told “48 Hours.”

Melissa’s sentencing

Melissa Turner sentencing

CBS News

A month after the verdict, on March 18, 2022, Turner returned to court to receive her sentencing.

“Based on the jury’s verdict, you are adjudicated guilty, sentenced to 20.5 years in the Florida State Prison,” Judge Samantha Ward told Melissa in court.

Family reaction

Jennifer Jiles and Sean Trussler

CBS News

Trussler’s sister-in-law, Jennifer Giles, believes justice was served. “I will say that is justice to a degree,” she told “48 Hours.” 

Sean Trussler says he misses his brother. “He was a good kid. He was just starting to be a man.” 

Juror Donald Goodwin says both lives were ruined that night. “Matthew Trussler didn’t have to die,” he told “48 Hours.” “They could’ve walked away from each other and started a different life.”

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