Crime & Courts

FITSFiles Episode 6: Rose Petal Murder Roundtable

Talking through one of South Carolina’s most shocking murder mysteries …

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In the sixth episode of FITSFiles – our new true crime (and corruption) podcast – questions were raised about the shocking and still-unexplained ‘Rose Petal Murder.’ Also, new evidence related to the case was revealed.

In a departure from our usual format, we ditched the scripted narrative and engaged in an extemporaneous, unscripted round table discussion with a very special guest. Chad Ayers – a highly-decorated former Greenville County sheriff’s deputy – joined us to talk about the case. President of his own security and consulting firm, ProActive Response Group, Ayers contributed his perspective to our discussion – offering thought-provoking commentary that encouraged us to see this investigation in a different light.

The ‘Rose Petal Murder’ was the savage slaying of 41-year-old Christina Parcell in Greer, South Carolina on the morning of October 19, 2021. From the beginning, nothing about this story has been as it seems – including the victim, who turned out to be a controversial and deeply flawed person with secrets that, once exposed, cannot be overlooked.   

Those exposed secrets led to the arrest of her fiancée Bradly Post for sex crimes involving minors.  The continuing investigation also resulted in the arrest of concert pianist Zach Hughes for the murder of Parcell. Hughes and Parcell had no known connection, though, which Ayers noted was totally inconsistent for such a graphic, “personal” murder – one in which Parcell was stabbed more than thirty times in the head and neck area and then posed amongst sprinkled rose petals and deadheaded roses.

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Our team discussed this staged crime scene – and our unanswered questions about Parcell’s murder – including questions regarding the relationship between Hughes and the father of Parcell’s child, John Mello.

Mello, who was notably out of the country when her murder took place, was involved in a bitter, ongoing custody battle with Parcell at the time of her death – and was later found to be coordinating harassment of her with Hughes via encrypted messages on WhatsApp.

Some expected Mello – a self-styled music producer – to be revealed as the orchestrator of this violent attack.  Many still do.

But investigators haven’t been able to get to all of the WhatsApp messages between the two men.

At an upcoming hearing, Hughes will face contempt charges for refusing to provide the passcode for his iPhone to investigators. In fact, Hughes has been accused of sending investigators on a wild goose chase with a fake password. This hearing was originally scheduled for this coming Monday (August 28, 2023), but was canceled late Friday due to a reported attorney illness.

As we await a rescheduling of this hearing, questions linger …

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For example, when Mello returned to the United States from Italy more than a week after Parcell’s murder, he did not have his cell phone with him. What evidence might exist on that phone? On Hughes’ phone? And in the messages between Hughes and Mello?  Would innocent people go so far as to make these conversations unavailable to investigators? 

These are just a couple of questions that remain in a case that has taken more twists and turns than a carnival ride.

As Hughes prepares to go to trial early next year, FITSFiles is telling the story beyond the headlines – uncovering previously unknown facts, gleaning undeciphered meaning and demanding unprecedented accountability over the individuals and institutions who are parties to the stories we cover.

Including ourselves ….

Eschewing agendas, egos and self-interest … we let the stories guide us, telling them as best we can, based on the best available evidence.

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. Be sure to like and subscribe to FITSFiles on your podcast platform of choice (including AppleSpotifyGoogle and others) so you won’t miss a single episode.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Callie Lyons (Provided)

Callie Lyons is a journalist, researcher, and author whose investigative work can be found in media outlets, publications, and documentaries all over the world – most recently in the Parisian newspaper Le Monde and a German documentary for ProSieben. Lyons also appears in Citizen Sleuth – a 2023 documentary exploring the genre of true crime.

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