Raleigh, N.C. — Police investigating the homicide of a mother found dead in her Raleigh apartment near North Hills said Wednesday they have not yet determined whether the crime was random.
Raleigh police asked the public to stay alert and said they have increased patrols near Allister North Hills Apartments, where 30-year-old Melissa Dawn Huggins-Jones was found Tuesday covered in blood on a bed inside her apartment.
Her 8-year-old daughter approached a construction crew working at the apartments shortly after 7:30 a.m. to seek help for her mother. A construction worker who went to her aid told a 911 call taker, “There’s blood everywhere. I think it’s too late for (CPR).”
Raleigh police filed a search warrant Tuesday to obtain the victim’s Facebook records, including private and deleted messages. Family members told investigators that Huggins-Jones had deleted her Facebook account on Saturday, two days before her death, according to the warrant.
"I was just shocked. I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it," said her friend, Chastity King. "I really just thought that there was some mistake. Melissa loved her children. She was an amazing mother. She loved those children more than anything in the world."
Huggins-Jones was originally from Elizabethtown but moved to Raleigh two weeks ago from Cleveland, Tenn., where she worked at First Tennessee Bank.
She brought her daughter with her, but her 12-year-old son stayed in Cleveland with his father to finish out the school year. The couple met in high school and were recently divorced, friends said.
"She was just a really good person, driven in her career – a good mom," said real estate agent and friend Darne Ridgley. "It just doesn't make sense."
Her former co-worker at the bank, Desha Maples, said Huggins-Jones sent her a text message around 11:30 p.m. Monday.
"She had a very hard Mother's Day because she was in Raleigh and her son was here," Maples said. "I told her to keep her chin up and that God had given her a new path."
Jennifer Hair grew up in the same neighborhood as Huggins-Jones in Elizabethtown, where friends were saddened to learn of her death. Many of them on Wednesday shared memories of the girl with the warm, caring personality who graduated from East Bladen High School.
"(She was) just a normal kid, full of life. You always saw her smiling," she said. "It was nice to know that she was moving back to be closer to her family."
Hair said the fact that her friend was trying to start a new life makes her death more devastating to those who loved her. Friends have created a Facebook tribute page in her memory.
Crime scene investigators spent Wednesday collecting evidence from her apartment building. They declined to say whether anyone else lived in the apartment with Huggins-Jones and her daughter. The girl is staying with relatives, police said.
The building where the body was found is the only one occupied in Allister North Hills Apartments; the rest of the complex is under construction. Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said Wednesday that other residents in the building are staying in other places until investigators finish their work at the crime scene.
Christian Sloan lives near the apartments and said she had always considered the neighborhood safe.
"I was really sad and surprised," she said. "It really makes me uneasy not knowing whether the person knew the person or not, or whether it was just some random act of hatred."
Police said they had no suspects in the case, and they asked anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 919-834-4357.
A funeral for Huggins-Jones is planned for 2 p.m. Sunday at Elizabethtown Baptist Church. Visitation will be 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday.