3 arrested in murder of north Raleigh mother

Ronald Lee Anthony Jr., Travian Devonte Smith and Sarah Rene Redden (Photos courtesy of Wake County Sheriff's Office)
May 22, 2013 8:08:47 PM PDT
Raleigh police have arrested three suspects in connection with the death of a North Raleigh mother.

Melissa Huggins-Jones was found covered in blood by her 8-year-old daughter on May 14 in their apartment in the 400 block of Allister Drive.

On Tuesday, Raleigh police arrested 23-year-old Ronald Lee Anthony Jr., 20-year-old Travian Devonte Smith and 18-year-old Sarah Rene Redden in Wake Forest. All three are facing murder charges and are currently in the Wake County Jail.

Raleigh police said they believe the murder is related to property crimes in the immediate area, but did not go into specifics. Police said the suspects made an unforced entry into Huggins-Jones apartment to commit a burglary.

The cause of death was given as blunt force trauma.

Smith was already on probation on an unrelated charge, according to a Wake County magistrate. Officials said Smith was wanted for violating his probation and the terms of his house arrest at the time of the murder.

Anthony also has an extensive criminal record dating back to 2008 for charges like felony robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Authorities said it appeared there was no connection between Huggins-Jones and the suspects before the crime.

ABC11 spoke with Redden's mother Wednesday who said - while charged - her daughter did not know about the murder.

"She had no idea," said Tammie Hansley.

Hansley said Redden would cooperate with investigators and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"All I know is those boys are nothing but trouble," Hansley said of suspects Anthony and Smith.

Huggins-Jones would have turned 31 on Tuesday. She had just moved to Raleigh two weeks earlier from Cleveland, Tenn. for a new job and a fresh start. Huggins-Jones was originally from Elizabethtown in Bladen County.

She was recently divorced and was sharing custody of her two children with her ex-husband. She took her daughter with her to Raleigh. A friend told ABC11 her son could not transfer schools this far into the academic year so he stayed with his dad in Tennessee.

Huggins-Jones' long-time friend, Heather Mintz, got emotional thinking about her friend.

"I would just say that she is loved and missed by many, and that she is leaving a wonderful legacy in her children that are still with us today," said Mintz.

A funeral service for the mother of two was held Sunday at Elizabethtown Baptist Church. There will be another memorial service for her in Tennessee that will take place in two weeks.

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