CCSO announces arrest of murder suspect in Ryan McClellan case

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CCSO announces arrest of murder suspect in Ryan McClellan case
Ryan McClellan

The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office on Friday announced the arrest  on Thursday of Emery Nicholas Whitt, 26, a suspect in the homicide case of Ryan Michael McClellan. age 33. who was reported missing on Nov. 16, 2017.

McClellan’s skeletal remains were discovered in “a large trash can” on Nov. 21, 2017, and dental records verified the remains were that of McClellan.

The trash can, Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast said in 2017, was in a wooded lot off American Avocell Point in Homosassa, about one-half mile from McClellan’s home, and was thought to have been placed there by unknown persons about the time Hurricane Irma rumbled through the county.

McClellan was a native of Michigan, the Sheriff’s Office said, and moved here several years ago. He also has three daughters.

At a 2017 news conference, Prendergast said that McClellan was believed to have suffered upper-body trauma.

Emery Nicholas Whitt

Whitt was already in custody in the Citrus County Detention Facility, records indicate. His residence is listed as 2604 W. Woodland Drive in Lecanto. He has been charged with unpremeditated murder, his arrest report satates.

At Friday’s press conference in Lecanto, Sheriff Prendergast gave the timeline of events surrounding McClellan’s case. He noted that On Sept. 20, 2017, McClellan was reported as a missing person. Detectives from the CCSO Major Crimes Section immediately began a thorough investigation to determine his whereabouts, but were unable to locate him.  He was last seen alive by family members on Sept. 15, 2017.

On Sept. 27, 2017, Ryan McClellan’s Jeep was located abandoned off South Applebud Terrace, Homosassa.  Detectives subsequently uncovered large withdrawals from McClellan’s bank account by suspect Emery Whitt.

On Sept. 29, 2017, Whitt was located, arrested on unrelated charges and interviewed about McClellan’s disappearance.  In addition, McClellan’s personal items, including several firearms, were found in Whitt’s possession.

Then on Nov. 25, 2017, a CCSO deputylocated human remains, inside of a trashcan, on a vacant wooded lot off South American Avocet Point in Lecanto. The body was believed to be that of McClellan’s. After the 5th Fifth District Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy, it was confirmed that the remains were in fact McClellan’s. Examiners were able to determine that McClellan was the victim of a violent homicide, the CCSO said, in which the perpetrator concealed the body in the trash can and subsequently discarded it in the woods.

Detectives worked tirelessly for more than months, Prendergast said, following leads that took them from Florida to Virginia.

They interviewed numerous family members, witnesses, persons of interest and even the suspect in this case. Detectives also took multiple trips to Virginia between August and December of this year to interview potential witnesses and the suspect. Several key witnesses came forward during this time to assist detectives with this investigation.

After connecting all the leads, gathering forensic evidence, and communicating with the State Attorney’s Office,  Judge Yerman signed a homicide warrant on Dec. 20 for Emery Whitt.  Detectives subsequently arrested Whit at Amelia Courthouse, Va., for the murder of Ryan Michael McClellan.

If anyone has information on this case or can assist in any way please contact Detective Chris Holloway or Detective Jonathan Richey from the Major Crimes Section at 352-726-1121.

If you wish to remain anonymous, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-888-ANYTIPS.

“First and foremost – our hearts go out to the victims’ family,” Prendergast said on Friday.

“Over a year later, and (the McClellan family) still have to deal with the fact that their loved one is gone because of this evil, senseless act committed by Whitt. We are horrified that someone could not only take another person’s life, but just discard them inside of a trashcan like they were a piece of garbage,” said Sheriff Prendergast.

“Rest assured that the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office will always remain vigilant and work tirelessly in seeking justice for the victims in cases such as these.”