The savage beating death of a 22-year-old pregnant woman shocked the community of Marietta, South Carolina, earlier this month—and now, authorities say, she might have been saved if one couple had not stood idly by and ignored her tortured pleas for help.
Michael Burnett, 43, and Melissa Burnett, 49, were identified by the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office on Monday as relatives of the man accused of bludgeoning Clarissa Winchester to death in early November.
Tyler Wilkins, identified in local news reports as Winchester’s boyfriend and the father of her baby, has already been arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping for the mother-to-be’s death. He allegedly beat her over the course of two hours, leaving her with fatal injuries to her head and neck, according to a probable cause affidavit cited by WMBF-TV.
The Burnetts, according to the sheriff’s office, “were in the house at the time of the brutal assault” but “failed to act, call 911, or provide any other assistance,” even as Winchester reportedly screamed for help.
The couple was booked over the weekend on charges of misprision of a felony, but they have since been released on $20,000 bonds, the sheriff’s office said.
The Burnetts were described as Wilkins’ uncle and aunt in a report by The State, which cited a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office. Public records list Michael Burnett as residing at the address where police say they found “Winchester’s deceased body along with a lifeless fetus.”
Winchester was seven months pregnant at the time of the fatal beating. Police have not said if the baby was stillborn or was born during the deadly attack, but Wilkins is also charged with unlawful conduct toward a child for allegedly failing “to seek medical attention for the recently born fetus,” police said.
The baby was a boy, and Winchester had already named him Grayson, according to a GoFundMe set up by the family.
Investigators are also eyeing Wilkins in the disappearance of Jorden Nebling, a 19-year-old woman last seen in October 2020, the sheriff’s office said earlier this month.
Sheriff’s office investigator Blake Wolfe was quoted as telling The State that Nebling was last seen being picked up by an ex-boyfriend.
Nebling’s stepmother, Mary Tucker, identified the ex-boyfriend as Wilkins in comments to Fox News.
“In my heart, I think he did something to her,” she said.
Wilkins has not been charged in connection with Nebling’s disappearance.