Every once in a while, there has been a murder story that boils our blood and one such is the tragic end of Melissa Lewis, a lawyer from Florida, who was tangled to death at her own garage in March 2008. To recall the case that almost took years to bring the culprit to justice, ID chronicled an episode titled ‘Going Places’ on the show ‘Vanished Into Thin Air’ which aired on Nov. 21, 2022.
Who Killed Melissa Lewis?
The most repeated question in the Melissa Lewis Murder was who killed her. The authorities found the answer to the disturbing question after naming multiple suspects. The killer in the Melissa Lewis murder case was Tony Villegas, the soon-to-be ex of her best friend, Debra Coffey. Apparently, he murdered Lewis accusing her was the reason behind the marital problems he had with his wife.
Villegas was only convinced after the investigators found the possible link he had with a devastating incident after they led a thorough search using phone records. The investigation was not as smooth as butter, containing many twists and turns. There is more flesh on the bone, so let’s discuss what we’ve gathered about the Melissa Lewis Murder.
How Did Tony Villegas Kill Melissa Lewis?
On the cursed evening of March 5, 2008, Lewis, as usual, left her workplace and reportedly headed to a nearby grocery store before landing at her home. She was supposed to get back to the firm as the team was having a particular meeting, but when Lewis didn’t report on the spot, her colleagues began to panic and required the authorities for a welfare check.
Since the authorities immediately headed to Lewis’ home, they discovered the garage door was left open and her car was also missing. On top of that, there were marks of pepper spray on the door, which indicated a burglary as well. There were signs of struggle and they even found a button on the floor, the one which was attached to the dress which she wore that day, before going missing. Everything together, her home hinted that Lewis was attacked.
Where Was Lewis’ Car Found?
Investigators were quick enough to access the GPS system in Lewis’ car using its OnStar security, but the top Fort Lauderdale attorney was nowhere to be seen. Her suit jacket and shoes were found in the car truck which nearly confirmed a possible murder.
Two days later, her body was found at a canal that was located not far from her home. Melissa Lewis death was subsequently confirmed due to physical strangulation.
How Was Tony Villegas Connected To Melissa Lewis’s Murder?
After the investigators learned about Tony Villegas, who was on the verge of getting parted from his estranged wife, Coffey, for which he held Lewis responsibly, the case began to pivot in a different direction. Villegas certainly believed Lewis was persuading his then-wife to divorce him.
When Lewis’ phone was tracked, it showed signals close to a tower in Hialeah, under the same territory where the suspect lived with a roommate. When cross-checked, Villegas’ phone records indicated he was at the same location as Lewis.
In the testimonial, Villega’s roommate revealed that he repeatedly asked about how to get rid of pepper spray residue, on the same night when Lewis was brutally murdered. It was a piece of key information, which when connected to the pepper spray marks found near the garage door, led to the next level. Shortly after, the forensic experts revealed that the accused’s DNA was found on Lewis’ coat.
When Was Tony Villegas Convicted?
Tony Villegas was convicted after eight years in June 2016, when the jury disclosed the final verdict which unfavored Villegas a lot. After two hours of deliberation, it was ruled that Villegas was the culprit the world was searching for roughly a decade. He was found guilty of first-degree murder and subsequently was sentenced to life in prison.
His prosecutors constantly professed that the murder took place as a result of Villegas accusing Lewis as the primary reason why his wife was distancing from him after years of togetherness. Since no mental condition was reported at the time he strangled the attorney, the jury was convinced that Villegas did the crime under full consciousness and the murder was not a mistake.
Where Is Tony Villegas Now?
Sources claim that Tony Villegas, the master brain of Melissa Lewis’s murder, is currently serving at the Columbia Correctional Institution, Florida.