Local News

Stolen laptop linked to Raleigh slaying

Posted June 3, 2013 11:33 a.m. EDT
Updated June 3, 2013 6:03 p.m. EDT

— The search to track down suspects in the killing of a woman in her Raleigh apartment last month led investigators to a stolen laptop at an apartment in Wake Forest, according to warrants released Monday.

Melissa Huggins-Jones, a 30-year-old divorced mother who had recently moved to her North Hills apartment from Tennessee, was found dead in her bed May 14.

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 arrested May 22 on charges of first-degree murder. They were indicted by a grand jury Monday.

Raleigh police said Huggins-Jones died of blunt force trauma, and they believe the suspects tried to burglarize her apartment. Investigators said last month that they established a link between the homicide and other property crimes in the area, but they would not elaborate.

But search warrants released Monday shed some light on the investigation. According to the warrants, police at the crime scene believed the apartment directly below Huggins-Jones had been burglarized and found DNA evidence linking the two crimes. An orange Lenovo laptop was listed among the items stolen from the apartment below.

Investigators requested warrants to search both apartments and a 2008 Honda Accord belonging to the victim.

A few days after the slaying, a police detective working the case found an orange Lenovo laptop for sale on Craigslist. The seller posted photos of “unique alphanumeric character identifiers” on the computer and a phone number, according to the warrant.

Police arranged an undercover meeting to buy the computer from the seller – who had identified himself as Mike who lived in Wake Forest and drove a blue Mitsubishi Eclipse – but the man never showed and his cellphone was turned off.

Investigators used cellphone records and other data to identify the man as Mike McCollum of the 600 block of South Main Street, Wake Forest. He was charged May 22 with felony possession of stolen goods, police said Monday.

McCollum was released on a $5,000 bond and is scheduled for a court appearance June 12. Police said they do not anticipate filing other charges against him.

It was unclear how McCollum knew the suspects in the case.

A probable cause hearing for the suspects is set for June 12.