Local News

Despite arrests, North Hills community still rattled after murder

Posted May 23, 2013
Updated May 24, 2013

Melissa Huggins-Jones, photo from Facebook

— Despite the arrests of three people suspected in the slaying of a woman in her apartment last week, those who live and work in the North Hills area of Raleigh say they are still rattled by what appears to be a random crime motivated by burglary.

Melissa Dawn Huggins-Jones, 30, was found dead from a blunt force trauma injury in her home at Allister North Hills Apartments on May 14 after her 8-year-old daughter sought help from a construction crew working in the complex.

Investigators said they linked the crime to other property crimes in the area and that it appears the suspects – Ronald Lee Anthony Jr., 23, Sarah Rene Redden, 18, and Travion Devonte Smith, 20 – made unforced entry into Huggins-Jones' home.

Random homicides are rare in Wake County, according to Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, and that's why those with ties to the North Hills area say the arrests aren't an end to concerns about crime there.

"You just never know, and it is scary," said Paula Pacheco, who works in the area. "They made the arrests, but it doesn't make it easier."

Although they haven't commented on the property crimes, police reports indicate that four people reported car break-ins in the area on the morning of May 14. The victims of those crimes said they happened in the parking garage of a nearby condominium complex around the corner from Allister North Hills.

Over the past two weeks, there have been seven property crimes reported within a one-mile radius of the crime scene. Since January, there have been 22, and last year, there were 62. Allister North Hills Apartments North Hills still on edge after murder, arrests

"It looks like a safe neighborhood, and you think it's never going to happen," Pacheco said. "But there is no safe neighborhood, and when I heard about (the murder), it hit home for me."

Police stress that's why residents in the area, as well across the city, should always be vigilant about security in their homes.

The reminder of the crime against Huggins-Jones was still on the minds of neighbors and visitors Thursday, as Wake County prosecutors visited the crime scene as part of the investigation.

"The lady had just moved here," said Bill Baranick. "She was trying to start a new life, and it just breaks everybody's heart."

Huggins-Jones had moved to Raleigh two weeks earlier from Cleveland, Tenn., for a new job and a fresh start. She was originally from Elizabethtown in Bladen County.

She would have turned 31 on Tuesday.


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  • bombayrunner May 24, 2013

    3 creepy teens sharing 1 brain cell.

  • Alexia.1 May 24, 2013

    "Wonder if the ex can sue for slander and false accusations." --ThomasL

    Who slandered and falsely accused? There were speculations made on this forum, but I didn't see anything more than that. It is reasonable for people to ask these questions, just as I am sure the police did.

  • corey3rd2 May 24, 2013

    It would be a safer neighborhood if people would lock their cars and set their alarms. The more people in your neighborhood who just walk away from their cars leaving them unlocked, the greater chance that eventually a group of thieves are going to hit the neighborhood cause it's ripe for the picking.

  • ThomasL May 24, 2013

    The one that needs to be ticked off is the ex husband!It is always assumed that a ex spouse is "hunted" down by her husband every time,bit by what pics we have seen of her she totes herself very provocative in her poses.Wonder if the ex can sue for slander and false accusations.

  • Civil4Mind May 24, 2013


    Don't know how to take that. Seeing that I don't remember the last pattern of someone being murder by home invasion involving young adults. The only pattern wake county has with murders more so is husbands killing their wives. What I can agree with is their backgrounds and thats it.

  • Honesty first May 24, 2013

    Hey Proud, Why not wait to see what the evidence is unless you have all info on this situation.

  • Bartmeister May 24, 2013

    Of course! Because no matter where you are, you can be visited by evil. Be prepared!


    That's why I hang out with Mr. Beretta, although I'm still not guaranteed total protection.

  • icmfal May 24, 2013

    "Really dumb to target this area of town, given the number of gun owners that live there, - dmccall.
    Just because a person has a gun, it does not mean they have the training or expertise to use one in an emergeny situation.

  • Lightfoot3 May 24, 2013

    “Despite arrests, North Hills community still rattled after murder” – article

    Of course! Because no matter where you are, you can be visited by evil. Be prepared!

  • Bartmeister May 24, 2013

    "Demographics my friends................pay attention to the pattern."

    Could you elaborate becaus I am not following. Are you refering to the demographics of the neighborhood and the violence it has seen in the past two years? Civil4Mind


    The participants and the victim, their backgrounds and history, and the pattern it continues to follow.