Two key figures in the ongoing ‘Rose Petal Murder’ saga were slapped with fresh charges this week in Greenville County, South Carolina, according to sources familiar with the status of the case.
Self-styled music producer John Mello – whose rumored connection to the murderer of his former girlfriend, 41-year-old vet tech Christina Parcell, has spawned all manner of conspiracy theories related to this case – has been charged with first degree harassment and conspiracy after allegedly coordinating the sending of nude images of Parcell to a co-conspirator.
Who was the co-conspirator? Parcell’s alleged killer …
Concert pianist Zach Hughes – who was charged by Upstate prosecutors with Christina Parcell’s murder in November 2021 – was also charged with first degree harassment and conspiracy this week for allegedly disseminating the pictures provided by Mello to an undisclosed group of recipients.
Sources familiar with the situation say prosecutors in the office of S.C. thirteenth circuit solicitor Walt Wilkins have obtained proof that Mello “sent Zach Hughes naked pictures of (Christina) and that Zach mailed them to a bunch of people.”
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Wilkins’ office was not immediately available to comment on these reports, but sources close to the investigation confirmed the charges – saying Mello “sent nude pics of Christina” which were subsequently “mailed to various locations around the Greenville area in an effort to purportedly harass Christina.”
According to these sources, the late Christina Parcell is listed as the victim of the alleged harassment orchestrated by Mello and Hughes.
If true, these allegations would more closely connect Mello and Hughes – who have already been linked together via cryptic WhatsApp messages exchanged around the time of Parcell’s graphic murder. Indeed, based on these new allegations it appears law enforcement is continuing to analyze data on Zach Hughes’ phone – and communications between him and John Mello.
Parcell was savagely slain 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 Parcell’s body after dragging (and posing) her in the front living room of a 2,100-square foot home owned by her sister, Tina Parcell.
“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 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). While Wilkins’ office is prosecuting the murder charges against Hughes – and the new harassment charges against Hughes and Mello – the charges against Post are being handled by the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson.
Post and the estate of the late Christina Parcell are also the focus of multiple civil suits related to their alleged production of pornographic material involving minor children.
The arrest of Hughes for Parcell’s murder shocked the Upstate seeing as he 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. Our research director Jenn Wood published this expansive piece on his background back in late March.
Mello and Hughes were “very close friends,” according to prosecutors, 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.”
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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.”
Mello, who was notably out of the country when Parcell’s murder took place, was involved in a bitter, ongoing custody battle with Parcell at the time of her death. 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.
As we previously reported, 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 Monday (August 28, 2023), but was canceled due to a reported attorney illness.
For more on the Rose Petal Murder, be sure to check out the first six episodes of our crime and corruption podcast FITSFiles (Apple, Spotify, Google). More Rose Petal Murder episodes are forthcoming …
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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