On Dec. 10, 2020, Judge Howard sentenced 28-year-old Emery Whitt to 30 years in prison for the 2017 murder of Ryan McClellan.
Detective Richey and Sergeant Holloway, with the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division (CID), conducted a lengthy and thorough investigation, leading to Whitt’s arrest in 2018 for McClellan’s murder.
These detectives continued to work closely with the State Attorney’s Office over the course of the judicial process, ultimately resulting in today’s sentencing. This sentence comes just under two years after Whitt’s arrest.
“Whitt had no respect for human life and was a danger to the citizens of Citrus County,” said Sheriff Mike Prendergast. Our deputies, detectives, and members of the State Attorney’s Office work in partnership to keep our streets safe, and this case is an example of that cooperation. It is our hope this prison sentence brings a sense of closure to McClellan’s family and loved ones”.
***** Original Release *****
On Sept. 20, 2017, 33-year-old Ryan Michael McClellan was reported as a missing person to our agency. Detectives from our Major Crimes Section immediately began a thorough investigation to determine his whereabouts with no luck in locating Mr. McClellan. He was last seen alive by family members on Sept. 15, 2017.
On Sept. 27, 2017, Ryan McClellan’s Jeep was located abandoned off S. Applebud Ter., Homosassa. Detectives subsequently uncovered large withdrawals from Mr. McClellan’s bank account by suspect Emery Whitt.
On Sept. 29, 2017, Whitt was located, arrested on unrelated charges and interviewed about Mr. McClellan’s disappearance. In addition, personal items of Mr. McClellan’s, including several firearms, were found in Whitt’s possession.
Then on Nov. 25, 2017, a deputy with our agency located human remains, inside of a trashcan, on a vacant wooded lot off S. American Avocet Point in Lecanto. The body was believed to be that of Mr. McClellan. After the 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 Mr. McClellan was the victim of a violent homicide, in which the perpetrator concealed the body in the trashcan and subsequently discarded it in the woods.
Detectives worked tirelessly for over fifteen months 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, we can finally announce that as of yesterday Dec. 20, 2018, Judge Yerman signed a homicide warrant for Emery Whitt. Detectives subsequently arrested 26-year-old Emery Nicholas Whitt, DOB 6/30/1992 of Amelia Courthouse, VA for the heinous and senseless 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. Over a year later and they 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.”