Local News

Three charged with murder in north Raleigh mom's death

Posted May 22, 2013
Updated May 23, 2013

— Three people were arrested Wednesday in the death of a 30-year-old mother who recently moved to Raleigh and was found covered in blood inside her apartment last week.

Ronald Lee Anthony, 23, of 1800 S. Bloodworth St., Raleigh, Travion Devonte Smith, 20, of Raleigh, and Sarah Rene Redden, 18, of 3209 Scotch Pine Trail, Wake Forest, were taken into custody late Tuesday and charged early Wednesday with first-degree murder in the death of Melissa Huggins-Jones.

Her body was discovered by a construction worker about 7:30 a.m. on May 14 after her 8-year-old daughter approached a crew working at the Allister North Hills Apartments asking for help.

Huggins-Jones died of blunt force trauma, Raleigh police said Wednesday afternoon, and investigators believe the suspects tried to burglarize her apartment and made "unforced entry."

Investigators said a link was established between the homicide and "certain property crimes in the area," but they would not elaborate.

According to police records, however, there were four car break-ins in the Ramblewood subdivision next to the apartments on the morning Huggins-Jones was found.

Investigators have not found any connection between Huggins-Jones and the suspects.

They each made brief first-court appearances Wednesday afternoon, where they asked for public defenders and a judge ordered them held in jail without bond.

A probable cause hearing was also set for June 12.

Melissa Huggins-Jones Arrests bring more questions for Huggins-Jones' family

"Most people are killed by someone they know. The random murders are few, but they're the ones that frighten us the most," Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby said. "You expect people who engage in criminal activity to be at risk, but when you're at home in your own bed minding your business, going to work every day, you just don't expect to be placed at risk, and that's why it's frightening to all of us."

Suspect was probation absconder

At the time of Huggins-Jones' death, Smith was considered a probation absconder and was wanted by police for violating the terms of house arrest, according to Keith Acree, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

Sarah Redden Huggins-Jones murder suspects first court appearance

After being released in January from prison, where he served time for receiving a stolen vehicle, Smith had been placed on a post-release supervision program. After failing to comply with the terms of the release, he was put on house arrest Feb. 28.

When he failed to wear a required ankle bracelet, a warrant for his arrest was issued April 16. They were unable to locate him until Tuesday.

Anthony was serving 24 months' probation for a number of convictions, including identity theft. He was previously convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon and was last released from prison in 2011 after a seven-month sentence.

He is expected in court next month on other pending charges, including larceny.

Acree said Anthony had visited his probation officer on May 16, two days after Huggins-Jones' body was discovered.

Ronald Anthony Three arrested in north Raleigh murder

Redden has no criminal record but was suspended from Wakefield High School four years ago after allegedly threatening another student online.

Her mother, Tammy Hansley, said Wednesday that Redden "is not guilty. She wasn't involved," but declined to comment further.

Questions linger for victim's family

Huggins-Jones was originally from Elizabethtown but moved to Raleigh in early May 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 have said.

Her cousin, Jennifer Huggins-Potter, said Wednesday that the family is relieved that police have made arrests but that the latest development brings only more questions and few answers.

"I've been looking at their pictures all morning and just want to know why. Why here? She had just gotten here and had a fresh start. She was so excited to be home, to be in North Carolina again."

Huggins-Potter said that, right now, the family is relying on memories to help them cope and are focused on Huggins-Jones' children.

"Her daughter will never get over that," she said. "Her daughter will never get over walking in – how cruel."

325 Comments

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  • athunder7 May 24, 3:18 p.m.

    Racial profiling in this case? Too bad real names are not used here so we know who users really are. These criminals should of been in jail. They stole property and got popped unloading it somewhere. Probally used girls ID at pawnshop. She got to have a beer with them or smoke a blunt. Hope judge keeps them locked up this time. Look what it took............

  • LastSon1981 May 24, 2:50 p.m.

    david46

    I agree I work with Inmates all the time and punishments should be a lot harsher than sitting around playing cards and watching t.v. all day.

  • josephlawrence43 May 24, 12:13 p.m.

    Little Story: Little girl walked into the post office with her Mother. While Mom was doing her business, the little girl noticed the Wanted Posters on the wall. She asked her Mom who those people on the poster were. Mom said they were bad people that the police were searching for. The little girl thought for just a moment and "why didn't they just keep them when they were taking their pictures"? Appropriate question.

  • david46 May 23, 7:19 p.m.

    One thing about the death penalty.....its final. NO more money is wasted on human debris or the off chance that some liberal judge cuts them loose and they do it again to another innocent victim.

  • Barfly May 23, 7:11 p.m.

    If you lie with dogs, you're gonna get fleas.

  • imback May 23, 5:41 p.m.

    "There absolutely no proof suggesting the death penalty is a deterrent not even in places where they behead people. - andy2

    And there is no absolute proof that that its not a deterrent. Look at all the studies out there - not just the ones from Death Penalty opponents and you will see what I mean.

  • randall0123a May 23, 4:01 p.m.

    I cannot believe all the comment about this girl being "impressionable" or how she threw her life away by getting involved with these guys! I NEVER use the race card because I think only racists themselves do that but those comments are ridiculous. This girl is free, white, and proud and made HER OWN decisions. No one forced her or "impressed" upon her to be involved in this crime or any other. She deserves the death penalty as much as the guys. Good riddance! Who cares HOW she got where she is today! She is there and now she can pay for it. – YoucanthandletheTRUTH

    AGREED!!!

  • randall0123a May 23, 3:58 p.m.

    There absolutely no proof suggesting the death penalty is a deterrent not even in places where they behead people. - andy2

    Andy, so how many murderers put to death have you seen that become repeat offenders? I think it would be difficult to provide an example here. Now compare to how many murders and criminals repeat after being paroled. The math should work out pretty easily.

  • gingerlynn May 23, 3:48 p.m.

    paulej-
    She is no angel. But you are right, sending her to an alternative school for 2 months certainly introduced her to a new group of kids to associate with. And not for the better. I bet her rapid downward spiral started here.

  • djofraleigh May 23, 3:13 p.m.

    But, I feel the Raliegh PD was out racial profilng. - COMMENT

    "I feel" is the wording supporting all prejudiced thought. I really doubt the RPD thought, "let's go get two black guys and a white girl" for this crime, even if they did 'feel' that's who did it!

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