Burglary spawned woman’s murder?
by GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
May 24, 2013 | 3679 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The cause of death in the case of a former Cleveland resident who recently moved to North Carolina was blunt force trauma, according to Raleigh (N.C.) Police Department officials.

Authorities say an alleged burglary attempt is the common denominator among three suspects who are in custody and have been charged.

Melissa Dawn Huggins-Jones, 30, was found dead inside her new Allister North Hills apartment last week.

Jim Sughrue, spokesman for RPD, said three people were arrested Tuesday in connection with her death.

Huggins-Jones had recently moved to Raleigh to manage a branch business of First Tennessee Bank, according to earlier reports from Mike Griffin of First Tennessee.

Her 8-year-old daughter found her body May 14 and asked nearby construction workers for help.

Arrested Tuesday were Ronald Lee Anthony Jr, 23, Sarah Rene Redden, 18, and Travion Devonte Smith, 20.

“The three suspects were initially detained late Tuesday afternoon in Wake Forest by RPD personnel, and the warrants charging them with murder were subsequently obtained,” said Sughrue.

The Wake Forest Police Department also provided assistance.

According to Sughrue, Huggins-Jones had no apparent connection with the three suspects prior to her alleged murder. She had moved to the area earlier in May where new construction of the apartment community was underway. According to reports, the building where Huggins-Jones and her daughter lived was the only one occupied.

“As the investigation progressed a link was established between the homicide and certain property crimes in the immediate area. Since charges have not yet been filed in the property crime cases, it would be inappropriate to specifically identify or discuss them in detail at this point,” Sughrue explained.

“It is believed the suspects initially made an unforced entry into the Huggins-Jones residence to commit a burglary,” he added.

Sughrue said Thursday afternoon that he “expected some of the search warrants related to the case will be turned in before too much longer, possibly as early as next week.”

Jones was a native of Elizabethtown, N.C., which is in Bladen County. Huggins-Jones would have celebrated her 31st birthday Tuesday, according to her friends who established the “Remembering Melissa Jones-Huggins” Facebook page.