A gruesome crime scene where one person was found killed and dismembered in Titusville is being investigated. The incident took place on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013. Malcolm Denemark, FLORIDA TODAY
Titusville detectives plan to interview the lone survivor of a deadly traffic crash that killed a person of interest in a gruesome slaying that left a 40-year-old woman dead.
The traffic death happened hours after Titusville police issued an alert for a man now identified as 21-year-old Christian Joseph Murphy who was believed to be travelling in a gold Nissan taken from a home in the 200 block of Avilez Boulevard where remains tentatively identified as Michelle Renee Chappell, 41, were found.
According to authorities, the victim was dismembered and beheaded, with her remains placed in containers.
Chappell, a one-time waitress with a history of domestic violence-related charges, and Murphy -- who is the person of interest - were known to each other and that the slaying was not a random act, police report. Detectives talked with Chappell's relatives today but say positive identification will be made by the Brevard County Medical Examiner's Office . It was determined that a old Nissan was missing from the residence.
Before the remains were collected and removed from the home, officers learned that Murphy, the person of interest in the case, was seen leaving the Titusville neighborhood earlier in the day. About 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Camden County Georgia Sheriff's Department deputies spotted the Nissan heading northbound on Interstate 95 and attempted to pull the vehicle over for a traffic stop.
"We had two deputies sitting out looking for the vehicle," said Camden County Deputy William Terrell.
The driver, possibly a woman, then led deputies on a chase on Interstate 95. "It was a brief pursuit. At times it was a high-speed pursuit," Terrell said.
"The driver came up on some traffic, went to the right and appeared to overcorrect. The (Nissan) went into the median, into the trees. It was dark. (The person of interest) was deceased at the scene," Terrell said. A second person, a female driver, was taken into custody.
The incident was reported Sunday afternoon to Titusville police and is the fourth reported homicide of the year in Brevard County. An autopsy was set to take place today to help determine how Chappell was killed and what was used in the dismemberment.
Anyone with information in the case is asked to call CRIMELINE at 1-800-423-TIPS.