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Crime News Kill or Be Killed

Florida Cosplay Model Fatally Stabbed Boyfriend in "Bloodiest Crime Scene" One Prosecutor Had Ever Seen

Evidence from two security cameras cast doubt on Melissa Turner's self-defense claim in the messy stabbing death of her boyfriend Matthew Trussler.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

On October 18, 2019, Matthew Trussler, 25, was found dead by police in the backyard of the Riverview, Florida home he shared with his girlfriend Melissa Turner, 26. Law enforcement arrived after Turner called 911.

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Trussler’s body was “covered in blood," journalist Gina Tron told Kill or Be Killed, airing Saturdays at 9/8c p.m. on Oxygen. "He had multiple lacerations and wounds."

"Melissa was distraught," Tron added. "She was crying. She said she had no idea what happened. She woke up and found Matthew in a bloody mess.”

While police awaited the medical examiner to remove Trussler's body, Turner agreed to let them search the home. She was given latex gloves to put on before she signed a consent form.

At the scene, co-prosecutor Chinwe Fossett observed that Trussler had “a very deep cut to his right arm,” she said. “Unlikely, but conceivably, one could inflict that type of injury on themselves.”

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Investigators determined Trussler “bled out mostly in the kitchen,” according to Fossett. Broken glass and several knives were found in the room. He managed to make his way to the patio before dying.

Katherine Fand, an assistant state attorney in Hillsborough County, described it as “the bloodiest crime scene I’ve ever seen.”

Melissa Turner featured on Kill Or Be Killed Episode 111

Who are Melissa Turner and Matthew Trussler?

Turner told police that she and Trussler were engaged. Investigators learned that he had grown up in Massachusetts and had a loving family.

“[Trussler] was the light of the party,” said Tron, adding that “he struggled though with substance abuse.” He moved to Florida to make a change in his life, and met Turner there.

Bullied as a youth, Turner lost 100 pounds in her early 20s. She documented her transformation online, and monetized her growing fan base by performing as a cam girl.

“She had a lot of fans, she had a lot of customers,” said Tron, adding that she engaged in sexual acts for the camera.

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Police try to figure out who killed Matthew Trussler

Turner told police that Trussler had talked in the past about harming himself. “He always told me he had a feeling he was gonna die young,” Turner said in a police recording. However, a stab wound on Trussler’s back ruled out his death as a suicide.

Investigators spotted a neighbor’s security camera overlooking Turner’s home. The camera captured audio coming from the crime scene.

The audio picked up Turner finding Trussler on the patio, when she called 911. It also captured a woman’s voice and a noisy argument from earlier in the morning, between 4:30 and 5 a.m. “She’s screaming at him, telling him to die,” said Fossett of the woman's voice. “So this changes everything.”

Melissa Turner Claimed Self-Defense in Matthew Trussler’s Death

Melissa Turner changes her story

Turner was found to have a cut on her neck and a large slice on her hand. She claimed she couldn’t remember what had happened “She did indicate a few times she had a headache,” said Tron.

Asked about the shouting heard coming from her home, Turner said in the police interview that she and Trussler argued because he was still up then and drinking at 4 a.m.

At this point, Turner’s story about waking up and finding Trussler dead changed. “He had a drinking problem,” Turner said. “He does get his knives out sometimes.”

She told police she recalled “pissing him off and things escalated” when she tried to get his knife out of his hand. At that point, Turner asked for a lawyer.

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Melissa Turner charged with murder

Turner was charged with second-degree murder. She enlisted the help of defense attorney John Trevina. Turner claimed she was forced to defend herself when Trussler drunkenly attacked her with a knife.

“He slams her head into the kitchen island. He's strangling her,” said Trevina. “She's able to wrestle the knife away from him. And then she stabs him. This is self-defense.”

Turner alleged that she staggered to her office and passed out in a chair. Evidence showed Turner’s blood on the chair where her head would have been resting.

Stephanie Neal, Turner’s friend, said she recalled feeling a bump on the back of the suspect’s head and asking her if she’d gotten medical attention for it.

A police handout of Melissa Turner

Mounting Melissa Turner's defense

Turner’s lawyer maintained that Trussler “took advantage of Melissa in every way possible.” He wasn’t stably employed and was a severe alcoholic, the defense team alleged.

“Melissa would tell stories to me about how he would have very scary hallucinations,” said Trevina. “He would talk about demons.”

Prosecutors didn’t buy it. “There was no evidence that Matthew self-harmed. She did a lot of horror and Halloween-style cosplay,” said Fand. “I think that she just had to come up with a story.”

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What did Matthew Trussler's autopsy report reveal?

On November 7, 2019, the autopsy report revealed that Trussler suffered superficial stab wounds to his chest and back, defensive wounds on his arms, and a deep cut on his right bicep that severed an artery and eventually caused his death.

“Had Melissa gotten him medical attention, there's a possibility that Matthew would still be alive,” said Fand.

The defense team had a different interpretation of the report. They maintained the fatal wound to Trussler’s arm was self-inflicted and focused on the fact that his blood alcohol level “was astronomical.”

Investigators looked into the months leading up to the murder. “Matthew’s family began to suspect that Melissa was controlling and that she was isolating him,” said Tron.

“Matthew was involved in some of her sexually explicit videos,” Tron added. “That may have led him to drink more.”

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According to a former roommate, said Fand, “Matthew was drinking too much. He wasn't violent when he got drunk. But the biggest problem [was that] it really made Melissa angry constantly.”

The prosecution’s theory, informed by accounts of family and friends, was that Turner got so angry that she struck out at him with a knife. Trevina called that theory “preposterous.”

Dramatic pre-trial decisions

Prosecutors prepared to present that Turner made a living acting as a cam girl and was playing the role of a victim. But the judge barred her work history from the proceedings.

The defense tried to exclude the audio from the neighbor's video camera, claiming the prosecution tampered with the evidence.

Prosecutors acknowledged adjusting the volume, said Tron. “They denied that they did any editing or muting,” she said. The audio was allowed to be played at the trial.

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Melissa Turner’s cellphone turns up a clue

On December 9, 2019, a search warrant on Turner's cellphone turned up a new lead tied to a home security app.

“Matthew and Melissa had an ADT camera that was activated by motion,” said Fand, adding that the night of the murder it was activated several times.

“That camera became very important because it let us show that one, Melissa was the aggressor, and two, when Melissa got the cut on her hand.”

Trevina maintained that the ADT camera images didn’t “really tell much of any story.”

After being postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Turner’s trial began on February 14, 2022. On February 17, Turner testified on her own behalf.

“My goal was to get the jury to see her for who she really was,” said Fossett, who grilled the defendant aggressively.

On February 18, Turner was found guilty of second-degree murder. She received a sentence of 20.5 years.

Find out what Trussler’s mother said at Turner’s sentencing and more about the case covered in the “Killer Cam Girl” episode of Kill or Be Killed, airing Saturdays at 9/8c p.m. on Oxygen.