2 arrested after missing man found dead inside trunk of vehicle, deputies say

Deputies take into custody Johnny Wesley, Lashawn Triplett


Deputies announced two arrests Saturday after a missing man who was last seen Tuesday was found dead inside the trunk of his car, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

Orlando police led the sheriff’s office’s homicide detectives to the body of 39-year-old Melvin Ray Wilcox Friday night after finding his Civic in the parking lot of a pharmacy near Pine Hills Road and North Lane, deputies said.

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Deputies arrested via warrants for first-degree murder Johnny Wesley, 42, and Lashawn Triplett, 43 who face such charges in connection with Wilcox’s death.

Melvin Ray Wilcox, 39, who last seen in the area of Elon Road in Pine Hills. (Orange County Sheriff's Office)

According to an affidavit for an arrest warrant, Wilcox went to the Central Florida Fair on March 13 where he encountered Triplett, who is the mother of his child, with Wesley. Wilcox and Wesley were friends, deputies said, and they allegedly got into a verbal fight because Wesley never told Wilcox that he had begun dating Triplett approximately a year earlier.

Wilcox told his mother, who deputies said was aware of his and Wesley’s contention, that he was going to visit a different friend the morning of March 15. Wilcox’s mother told deputies she contacted the friend that evening, who said he never arrived.

She then contacted Wesley, who told her that Wilcox came to his residence, got into another fight and left in his car, deputies said. Wesley told her that he had to jump the Civic for Wilcox because it had a dead battery, according to the affidavit. Numerous calls that Wilcox’s mother made to her son’s cell phone went straight to voicemail, deputies said.

An undisclosed time later, deputies arrived at Wesley’s home after Wilcox’s mother reported her son’s car stolen and provided authorities with Wesley’s address. Upon reviewing security footage from an undisclosed source, detectives moved to intensify their investigation and to draft a search warrant for the property “in the event Melvin (was) located deceased” regarding the suspicious nature of his disappearance, the affidavit said.

In the course of 10 hours of surveillance video, detectives said Wilcox was seen arriving to and entering Wesley’s house around 2 a.m., but not leaving it in the same way. About two hours after Wilcox was seen walking through the front door, detectives said several people were observed attempting to move Wilcox’s car, which they had to start with jumper cables.

About an hour later, the Civic was backed up through the front yard to the door of the residence, all of the lights in the house were turned off and a man was seen driving the car away, detectives said. After another hour, Wesley was seen walking back to the house and loading two large trash bags into his own vehicle before driving away, returning within 15 minutes, detectives said.

Detectives said that the footage indicated to them Wilcox was likely killed in the home and that his vehicle was used to transport his body to where it was found on Friday. When a search warrant was served at the home, bullet holes, remnants of blood, and a 9mm shell casing were found, deputies said.

According to the Orange County Medical Examiner, Wilcox was shot three times, once through the head and twice in the neck/shoulder area. His death was then ruled a homicide, deputies said.

Johnny Wesley, 42, and Lashawn Triplett, 43, who were arrested Saturday, March 19, 2022. (Orange County Sheriff's Office)

Wesley and Triplett made their first appearances Sunday afternoon and were given no bond.

A GoFundMe to help with burial costs for Wilcox can be found here.

About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.