ELIZABETHTOWN — Police have made three arrests in the murder of Melissa Dawn Huggins-Jones of Raleigh. On Wednesday afternoon, her death was characterized as being connected with a burglary.
Huggins-Jones was born in Columbus County and grew up in Elizabethtown.
On Wednesday morning it was reported that Ronald Lee Anthony, 23, of Wake Forest, Sarah Rene Redden, 18, of Wake Forest, and Travion Devonte Smith, 20, of Raleigh, were arrested Tuesday afternoon after being brought to the Raleigh Police Department for questioning.
On Wednesday afternoon, they made their first court appearance and were all charged with first-degree murder.
Ben Kinlaw, who is no relation to Huggins-Jones or her family, had this to say in an email to the Bladen Journal: “When I read Dawn’s obit, my heart went out to her family. I read Dawn’s tragic story in both NC and TN newspaper. So when I read suspects had been arrested earlier today, I knew that the justice portion of this tragedy was on the way to being addressed. For the healing process to begin, the justice portion will have to be addressed first.”
According to reports, Raleigh officers located the suspects in Wake Forest with the help of the Wake Forest Police Department. It is reported there were four motor vehicle break-ins in the Ramblewood Subdivision near where Huggins-Jones lived.
Huggins-Jones had recently moved to the apartment in the Rablewood Subdivision at North Hills. The subdivision is located off of Six Forks Road. Huggins-Jones had recently divorced and was seeking a “fresh start” in Raleigh after moving from Cleveland, Tenn.
According to reports, early indications are that Huggins-Jones did not know the individuals prior to her attack and police believe the trio made an unforced entry into her apartment to commit a burglary.
On the morning of Tuesday, May 14, Huggins-Jones’ 8-year-old daughter found her in her bedroom and sought help from construction workers at a nearby building.
Police have served a warrant on her Facebook account, which she had deleted on the Saturday prior to her death. According to the News&Observer of Raleigh, it is still unclear if there is a connection to the deleted Facebook account and her death.
Both Anthony and Smith each have prior criminal records.
According to the North Carolina Department of Corrections website, Anthony has felony convictions for embezzlement, making a bomb threat, robbery with a dangerous weapon, misdemeanor stolen goods possession, misdemeanor damage to property, identity theft, and driving while license revoked.
Smith has a felony conviction for receiving a stolen vehicle and misdemeanors for trespassing and assault.
The investigation is continuing.