Welcome to FITSFiles! This is the official launch of our brand new true crime podcast, which is brought to you by the media outlet that broke open the ‘Murdaugh Murders’ crime and corruption saga – and America’s ‘Cheer Incorporated‘ sex abuse scandal.
FITSFiles is dedicated to exploring (and exposing) the truth behind the headlines – uncovering the facts, trying to decipher their meaning and holding everyone involved accountable (including us). Unlike so many offerings in this genre, our podcast is “not about agendas or egos … it’s about seeking the truth and finding true justice.”
FITSFiles is written, produced and hosted by our team of dedicated journalists: Research director Jenn Wood, special projects director Dylan Nolan, researcher Callie Lyons and founding editor Will Folks. New episodes drop every Wednesday morning.
Our first episode focuses on the gruesome Rose Petal Murder, which took place on the morning of October 13, 2021 in a suburban neighborhood in Greer, South Carolina. As we have previously reported, details of this crime scene were “disturbingly ritualistic.” For starters, the killer allegedly sprinkled rose petals around the body of the victim – 41-year-old Christina Parcell – after dragging (and posing) her in the front living room of a 2,100-square foot home owned by her sister, Tina Parcell.
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“Rose petals were sprinkled around her body,” a source familiar with the killing told this news outlet. “She was dragged – there were drag marks. The scene was staged.”
Other sources cited the presence of multiple “deadheaded roses” around Parcell’s body.
Parcell’s cause of death was recorded by the Greenville county coroner’s office as a homicide due to “multiple sharp force injuries.” Specifically, she “was brutally stabbed to death in her neck and head area,” sustaining “approximately 31 different stab wounds by a sharp object.”
Parcell’s body was discovered shortly after 11:00 a.m. EST on the morning of the murder by her fiancee, Bradly Post – who has since been arrested (but not for killing Parcell).
Instead, Post is currently facing five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in the first degree, one count of sexual exploitation of a minor in the third degree, one count of third degree criminal sexual content with a minor and one count of buggery (you can read more about that last charge here).
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All of these charges are pending – and are being prosecuted by the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson.
Post and Parcell (or rather, her estate) are also listed as defendants in two civil lawsuits – one brought on behalf of Parcell’s own daughter, who was under the age of ten at the time of the murder, and the other brought on behalf of another minor female allegedly victimized by the couple.
Of particular interest? At the time of her murder, Parcell was involved in “an extremely contentious custody battle” with 62-year-old John Mello – her ex-boyfriend and the father of her young daughter. Mello, who styles himself as a music producer, was briefly incarcerated on a custodial interference charge in connection with his custody battle with Christina Parcell.
So … who committed this horrific crime?
According to investigators and prosecutors, the killer is thirty-year-old Zachary David Hughes of Morro Bay, California – someone who had no known connection to Christina Parcell.
A California native and graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School in New York City, Hughes is a classically trained concert pianist who studied and performed piano sonatas and concertos written by famed composer Ludwig van Beethoven. Jenn Wood published this expansive piece on his background back in late March.
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Hughes stands accused of traveling by bicycle to Tina Parcell’s home at 122 Canebrake Drive in Greer, S.C. and savagely murdering Christina, who worked as a technician at nearby Foothills Veterinary Hospital in Greenville, S.C.
While his connection to the victim remains a cause for conjecture … the evidence against Hughes is strong.
During an April 6, 2022 court hearing in Greenville, S.C., Wilkins indicated Hughes’ DNA had been found under Parcell’s fingers.
“The victim’s fingernails were processed for DNA, and the (result) conclusively shows that Zach Hughes’ DNA was under the fingernails of the victim,” Wilkins told S.C. circuit court judge Edward W. Miller.
A Ring camera from a home across the street also captured Hughes “dressed in a black hoodie and a backpack entering the front door” of Parcell’s home just before she was killed, according to Wilkins. Hughes was later seen on another Ring camera “leaving the subdivision on a bicycle” after Parcell’s murder, Wilkins said.
Hughes’ attorneys disputed the video evidence, claiming the clips cited by prosecutors “don’t show Zach.”
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Hughes has no prior arrests or convictions and surrendered voluntarily to authorities on the charges he is facing – even though he was just moments away from leaving the country at the moment he was charged. He has been held at the Greenville County detention center since his arrested in November 2021.
Mello and Hughes were “very close friends,” according to Wilkins, and routinely used the encrypted smartphone application WhatsApp to communicate with each other. In fact, Mello and Hughes are said to have exchanged at least 1,769 encrypted WhatsApp messages.
In one conversation via WhatsApp on April 17, 2021, Mello indicated he had obtained Christina’s private number and instructed Hughes to use it to “harass the shit out of her.”
Authorities also uncovered numerous conversations between Mello and Zachary Hughes via WhatsApp between October 8 and October 13, 2021 – the day of Christina Parcell’s murder. On October 13, for example, there is a conversation in which Mello asked Hughes “how did the music research go?”
“Good,” Hughes responded. “I’ll tell you over the phone.”
Again … don’t miss a single episode of FITSFiles. Subscribe to our newest offering on Apple, Spotify, Google and wherever you download podcasts – and be sure to leave a review if you like what you hear!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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