Woman found inside Hanahan closet strangled to death

HANAHAN, S.C. (WCBD) — Autopsy results show the woman found in a closet in a Hanahan apartment died from asphyxiation due to strangulation, according to the Berkeley County Coroner’s Office.

On Tuesday, November 8 at 2 p.m., the body of Melanie Rivera, 39, was found inside of a closet at The Landing Apartments.

Investigators say Rivera was inside for more than 24 hours.

Thirty-five-year-old Michael Patrick Strait Jr. was arrested during a traffic stop Tuesday, November 8.

RELATED: Woman found dead in closet in Hanahan, boyfriend arrested

Court documents revealed Strait killed Rivera by grabbing her forcefully around the neck with his right hand — holding her down, on the living room couch, until she stopped resisting verbally and physically and was no longer breathing.

After realizing she was dead, Strait immediately threw away all her belongings in a dumpster and placed her body in a linen closet to conceal the murder, according to an affidavit.

We’re told Strait provided both a verbal and written statement confessing to the crime. The altercation took place because Strait was caught by Rivera communicating with another woman via phone calls and text messages, the affidavit added.

Strait will face a bond court judge Thursday night.

Rivera’s death has been ruled as a homicide.

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